She Always Wore Red Paperback – May 1 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
In her sequel to Doesn't She Look Natural, Hunt's story moves into heavier themes as Jennifer Graham attempts to rebuild her life after her divorce. Jennifer, just shy of 40 and at the end of her first semester of mortuary school, is happy that her two boys are settling into the small Florida town of Mount Dora. Business is brisk at the family's inherited Victorian house, which doubles as Fairlawn Funeral Home, under the watchful eye of the elderly live-in embalmer Gerald Huffman. However, things unravel quickly; 13-year-old Clay has fallen in with a trio of shoplifting, rabble-rousing ruffians, and tragedy seems inevitable. When Jennifer unexpectedly discovers she has an illegitimate half-sister with a fundamentalist bigot stepfather, Jennifer's belief in God's love and mercy is strained—and more tests of faith loom. Hunt is a prolific, competent author who easily handles the mechanics of her novel. The present-tense narration gives the story an unusual urgency. This novel is more issue-driven than the first, and while the prolife and racial equality themes are weighty, the message of unconditional love helps leaven any preachiness. Readers who enjoyed the first book in the series will find this one more somber, but still engrossing. (May)
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About the Author
Angela Elwell Hunt began her writing career in 1983. After five years of honing her craft working for magazines, she published her first book in 1989. Since then, the prolific author has written over one hundred books in fiction and nonfiction, for children and adults.
She and her youth pastor-husband, Gary, make their home in Florida with two mastiffs, one of which was featured on Live with Regis and Kelly as the second-largest dog in America. Web page [www.angelahuntbooks.com].
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Jennifer Graham is the owner of a funeral home, though she is still very new to the business. We have the delight of following her as she learns the ropes of dealing with the dead and their families; fascinating details are provided for those of us who are interested in human anatomy. We are able to meet the members of her family and see them move through challenging situations where faith in God carries them through.
This title is the second in the Fairlawn Series (I'm now eager to read the first installment as well as future titles), and reads very well on it's own if you aren't familiar with the rest of the series. Angela Hunt quickly brings us up to speed with the circumstances of the main characters without the need for lengthy expository passages. She quickly endears these quirky individuals to us by including the miniscule details of their lives that make the book all the more realistic.
It seems as though there is a rash of books in Christian women's fiction where the leading ladies are divorced, and then become entangled in romantic involvements, and even remarriage with other men. My mind was set at ease to learn that Jennifer, though she had been divorced, was now a widow. Now I could relax - even if romantic situations developed without worrying about sin on the main characters part, whew! Thankfully any potential romantic interest was also very subtle and free of sensual overtones.
Hunt confronts controversial, contemporary social issues from a Christian viewpoint where the rubber hits the road - within the family. While dealing with the issues of peer pressure, abortion and racial prejudice the themes of God's love, grace and sovereignty shine through. Hunt was extraordinarily successful at engaging my emotions - I gasped in joy as I rejoiced with them, and I wept with them in their times of sorrow and doubt.
I have now been opened up to the possibility that well written Christian fiction can indeed, draw a believer's heart closer to Christ, can lead them to examine themselves in the light of His love, can teach us how to relate to, and love each other. How could I ask for anything more? I look forward to reading more of Angela Hunt's work now that I have discovered her.
However, the change does not work out as smooth as Jennifer hoped for. Her son thirteen year old Clay has joined a team of shoplifting troublemakers and has been nasty at home to her and his brother. He is driving her to the end of her rope although she loves him and will keep on feeling that way regardless of what trouble he is in. However Jennifer also discovers she has a half-sister dominated by a fundamentalist stepfather whose beliefs make Jennifer wonder about her own as her faith in God is tested.
The sequel to DOESN'T SHE LOOK NATURAL is a deeper tale than the fine first Graham entry as issues of faith, race, divorce aftermath and teen peer pressure are handled deftly while interwoven into a strong character driven story. Jennifer is a wonderful lead protagonist who left DC for smalltown Florida for her sake and that of her sons in order for them to start fresh; however the best laid plans of mice, women and Jennifer often go astray. Angela Hunt provides a poignant contemporary novel that in spite of the profound issues, frustrations and differences true maternal love is always there.
When reading an Angela Hunt book, one must be prepared for two things. The first is that the reader will be entertained with quirky characters, intriguing plot lines and snappy dialogue. The second is that the reader will come away completely blown away by what they have just finished reading. Their thought process will have changed by the story and one starts seeing things in a whole different light. It's interesting to note that the publishers decided to change the covers of the series from a light, whimsical feel to a more serious, somber emotion. That's exactly how this second story comes off as compared to the first book in the series. There are so many topics dealt in this book that are still uncomfortable to discuss among Christians these days. Many of these topics we would rather not bring up, yet the author shows how they must be discussed and not hidden away. The scene that stuck out most to me in this story was during the meal where Jennifer and her mom realize that being "colorblind" is not necessarily the best way to be. This scene really made me think about that statement and what it truly means in today's world. However, while the overall tone of the book is serious, there are still rays of humor sprinkled throughout the book. The double funeral scene is a favorite. One is also allowed to still feel squeamish especially when Jennifer performs her embalming duties. It's a wonderfully written book that's just blends all of these elements together perfectly. This book is a keeper one that you can't put down.
And so I declare this to be the best Angela Hunt book I have EVER read (and I've read them all!) I have high hopes for the third book in the series. VERY highly recommended.
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