From the cover:
Harriet Kirk is certain that becoming the new school teacher in Ladreville, Texas, is just what she needs--a chance to put the past behind her and give her younger siblings a brighter tomorrow. What she didn't count on was the presence of handsome former Texas Ranger Lawrence Wood-- or the way he affects her fragile heart. But can Harriet and Lawrence ever truly conquer the past in order to find happiness?
Tomorrow's Garden is Book #3 in the popular series, Texas Dreams, written by the talented and gifted author, Amanda Cabot (see previous post for author interview). I would like to preface my remarks by stating that I read this book without having first read the first two books in the series. I had no difficulty at all in following the story line and feel that this book can stand alone and be thoroughly enjoyed without the benefit of reading the first books. However, having read book 3, I am completely in love with the series and fully intend to read the other books also.
There are two major components that I look for when reading a book. One component, of course, is that it must be enjoyable and entertaining. Tomorrow's Garden fulfills this need on many levels. The characters are well-developed and possess personalities that are believable, complete with very real flaws and redeeming attributes. The storyline is captivating and moves along at a pace that quickly grabs the reader and catches them up in the action in such a way that they feel as if they are a partner in the unfolding drama. A good story transports the reader to another reality, a time and place that exist only in the reader's mind and the words on the page. Based on these criteria, Tomorrow' Garden successfully accomplishes the objectives.
The second feature that I look for is "does the book help me to be a better person?" Most of the time I read Christian fiction because in it I find elements that minister to me and make me examine my life and attempt to become a better person/Christian as a result. This does not in any way mean that the book must preach or sermonize. The intent can be achieved quite readily without going to these lengths. Indeed, much of Jesus Christ's ministry consisted of telling stories in the form of parables in order to deliver His message. So too, can a book of Christian fiction minister in this manner.
Specifically, Tomorrow's Garden delivers a message of patience, of waiting upon the Lord for the answers which will be revealed in His time. Amanda Cabot has skillfully shown, through the simple act of having her students plant a garden, the lesson of patience found in James 5:7 (KJV) which states "the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it..." It also speaks a message of hope and reinforces the fact that through Christ we have hope of deliverance, both in this temporal life and also eternity.
Harriet and Lawrence both lived with a dreadful fear, a fear that, based on past events in their lives, was completely justified. Harriet's every action was governed by an emotional fear that was planted in her by her hypocritical parents and also by a physical fear based on the circumstances surrounding their death. To the observer, the actions and reactions of Harriet and Lawrence are seemingly irrational but, when the full picture is revealed, it is readily apparent why each of them responded in the manner that they did to events that transpired.
It was as I pondered this thought that the Lord began dealing with me regarding an acquaintance of mine. This person's behavior, like Harriet's, didn't seem appropriate based on known facts. Their conduct had begun to attract attention and people began to react to this person in a negative manner. It was only after I had read Tomorrow's Garden that I began to wonder if there was something going on in this person's life that no one was aware of but that was contributing to the unusual actions. Consequently, I began to pray for this person in a different manner than I had been previously. In a matter of only a few days, it was revealed to me that this individual was indeed going through some very severe trials and their behavior was directly a result of the situation. Had I not benefited from the message found in Tomorrow's Garden, it may never have occurred to me that this person was desperately in need of prayer, comfort, and support.
I know that I have digressed somewhat from providing a simple book review but I wanted to give you my personal testimony about the immediate influence this book had on me. I have taken a rather round-about way to let you know that this book fulfills my personal requirements to be qualified as an extremely good book. This is one that I will read more than once. I highly recommend this book to you and hope that you will waste no time in getting your own copy of Tomorrow's Garden. You won't be sorry you did!
Tomorrow's Garden was provided to me by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group for review purposes. I was not obligated to give a positive review and received no other compensation for this review.
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