Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Jennifer Erin Valent's Catching Moondrops ~ Reviewed

By Jennifer Erin Valent
Published by Tyndale
370 Pages

Back Cover: Jessilyn Lassiter no longer has to convince people she’s not a child. Having just turned 19 in the summer of 1938, her love for Luke Talley has never been more real. And Luke is finally beginning to care for her in the way she’s always dreamed of. But their budding romance is interrupted when Tal Pritchett—a young, black doctor—comes to Calloway, stealing the heart of Jessilyn’s best friend, Gemma, and stirring up the racial prejudice that has been simmering just beneath the town’s surface. The tension starts to bubble over when Jessie’s elderly neighbor Miss Cleta becomes the first white townsperson to accept Tal’s treatment. And when a young black man is lynched, Calloway is brought to its knees once again as Jessilyn realizes that her anger can make her heart as full of hate as the klan members who have terrorized her town and her family.

REVIEW: I was captivated by the first two books in this series, Fireflies and Cottonwood Whispers; and anxiously awaited the review copy of Catching Moondrops; the last installment. I couldn’t wait to be reunited with the characters I had grown to love.

Jennifer Erin Valent has masterfully written a series about 1938, a turbulent time in American history through the eyes of a child. Her characters are authentic and grabbed my heart from the beginning. I enjoyed hanging out with them in all three books and wondered how I would react if I grew up in a time like them. I enjoyed reading about their challenges and seeing how the times affected them and American society.

I do believe Jennifer has saved her best book for last. This novel can be read as a stand alone but I highly recommend getting to know Jessilyn, Gemma and Luke when they’re small. This author shows the reader how horrific times were then and how this affected these dear ones as they got older.

Jennifer writes all three books in the first person through the eyes of Jessilyn, which I loved. She’s now nineteen. Still bull-headed, knows what is unjust and is not afraid to speak her mind! She also has a strong sense of right and wrong. Her convictions and emotions often times get ahead of her safety and common sense.

Jessilyn says, “…from the day I’d come to know what prejudice could do to people’s hearts, it had stolen from me. It had stolen innocence, security, loved ones…and now it had stolen my hope.”

Jennifer says this about prejudice thru Jessilyn, “For some people, time has a way of blurring the good and the bad, spitting out that thing called conscience and replacing it with a twisted sort of logic that makes right out of wrong.”

Skillfully woven through these crazy times is a love story between Jesslyn and Luke that has been brewing in all three books and comes to a delightful conclusion. Gemma, Jessilyn’s best friend, has a love interest too.

Jessilyn thinks, “Young love in a step apart from reality. It paints over the crudities of the world with pretty colors and strokes until everything’s just a watercolor. Only problem is, when you cover something up, you don’t really get rid of what’s beneath.”

Just because Jessilyn and Gemma were in love, the harsh reality of life was all around and broke through their love bubbles in unexpected ways.

This author is an amazing wordsmith and weaves a very natural and believable spiritual thread through the heart of Jessilyn. She wrestles with doing the right thing. Her parents, Luke and Gemma trusted God and tried to explain things to her. But Jessilyn couldn’t trust a God that would allow bad things to happen to the people she loved. She wanted to treat the members of the KKK like they treated her friends. She knew it wasn’t right but she didn’t care.

Jennifer gets to the heart of the issue in a unique way. She lets the reader see along with Jessilyn that there is nothing good in any of our hearts but Jesus. “Bitterness hardens the heart and corrupts the mind!”

Given the right circumstances hate can creep in anyone’s heart and hold it hostage. We become just like our enemy seeking revenge. It’s only through forgiveness and healing can love shine through our lives.

This entire series is a keeper. You’ll definitely be reading it again, and telling your friends and family about these books. You won’t view prejudice the same way or God’s love for his people after reading these novels.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network

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