Saturday, November 29, 2014

Quilted by Christmas by Jodie Bailey (Quilts of Love- Litfuse Blog Tour)

Quilted by Christmas A grandmother's last wish is to communicate God's love through an Irish chain quilt.

Taryn McKenna believes she's easy to forget. Abandoned by her parents and left behind when her high school sweetheart joined the army, she vows to never love again and throws herself into her love for the outdoors and the pursuit of a college degree---something no one else in her family has ever accomplished. Her goal, as a young teacher in the hills of North Carolina, is to leave a legacy in the lives of the middle-schoolers she teaches. When Taryn's grandmother Jemma, the only other person who ever held her close, has a heart attack that reveals a fatal medical condition, Taryn is corralled into helping Grandma work on a final project---an Irish chain quilt that tells the story of her history and the love Jemma knows is out there for Taryn. As the pieces of the quilt come together, Taryn begins to see her value. Can she learn to believe that God will never leave her behind even though others have?
Jodie Bailey is Tarheel born and bred. After 15 years as a military spouse, she settled with her family back in North Carolina. She is the author of the military suspense novel Freefall and is a contributor to Edie Melson's devotional for military families, Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home. While not working on her next novel, she teaches middle-schoolers to love writing as much as she does (if she's lucky that day and they're actually listening...). Jodie loves to bake, ride the Harley with her husband, and fish the Outer Banks with their daughter. 

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My thoughts:
I enjoyed this story of faith and heartache.  Taryn has been hiding something for years, something she was counseled by her father and grandmother to keep to herself, and it has haunted and narrowed her life.  On the day her best friend and boyfriend, Justin, leaves to join the army they have a fight that colors how she sees herself for the next ten years.  Faced with losing the person she knows the best and loves the most, she tries to convince him to stay instead of go, causing him to make her feel like she is needy and manipulative.  That whole exchange leads to a chain of events neither of them could imagine.

When Justin comes back to town and seems to want to be her friend again, she is confused and worries that the longer she takes to tell him about what she did in his absence the harder it is going to be to do it, but at the same time she fears that once he knows he won't want to be around her anymore.  When her grandmother ends up in the hospital with a broken arm, it comes down to Taryn to finish her cousin's surprise wedding quilt.  Surprisingly, Justin offers his help with hand piecing the quilt.  Working together night by night they are able to rebuild their old rapport, but the secret is still there.

I love stories about Christmas and about people finding their way through tough situations that are true to life.  Nothing is easy or simple or solved right away, these characters work through their issues together and separately finding out who they are and what they really care about, while trusting in their faith.

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