Monday, February 05, 2007

Ann Gabhart's Orchard of Hope ~ Reviewed

Orchard of Hope
by Ann Gabhart
Published by Revell, March 1, 2007
ISBN-10: 0800731697

Thirteen year old Jocie Brooke never knew so much could change in one year. Despite her trust in a loving God, things seem to be worsening for her beloved town of Hollyhill. The war over civil rights has people in an uproar, so when a black family purchases a farm just down the road, Jocie wonders if her neighbors, her friends. . .her church, will somehow find the path to peace.

Not if the Klan can help it.

Their presence means trouble, not only for the black residents of Hollyhill, but for anyone with the courage to stand up to them, including young Jocie. She believes God loves everyone, including Noah Hearndon and his beautiful activist mother, Myra.

The moment I sat down to read this novel, I knew I was in for rollercoaster ride. At times I found myself terribly anger, at others, unutterably sad. With words that flowed like poetry across the page, Ms. Gabhart created a work of art that deals beautifully with a difficult time in our nation’s history.

I wept at the beauty of the emotions evoked by such lines as:

“I know he kept breathing till after we got him to the hospital, but it was because his spirit took off so fast his body got caught by surprise. As soon as he saw those angels coming after him, he was gone. I know he was.”

In other places I raged, my heart pounding in fear for the safety of this young girl and her family.

In the end, I stood up and cheered—heartened by the knowledge that we as a people have begun to grow past the hate that once consumed us. Thanks to our loving Creator, we can learn to forgive, learn to heal. Best of all, we can learn to hope. This is one book I will remember for a very long time.

Review by Elizabeth Ludwig

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