Recently, someone posted on a message board I regularly visit that they are tired of sappy Christian novels that always include the message of salvation. They wanted to see stories that deal with believing characters who that struggle with everyday choices and issues. Issues that aren't always able to be wrapped up in a pretty little bow.
Well, let me introduce you to Leaving Yesterday, by Kathryn Cushman.
This was the first novel I've read by this author and I have to say it definitely won't be my last.
Alisa Stewart has experienced more than her share of heartache. First, she lost a son to murder. Then, her other son, Kurt, left home for a life of drug use and addiction. On top of that, she and her husband are separated, leaving Alisa to deal with her pain alone while taking care of their 10-year-old daughter.
When a police officer appears at her door, Alisa fears the worst - that her prodigal son, whome she hasn't heard from in forever, is dead. But the officer is only there following a lead on a recent murder about which her son may have information.
When Kurt calls out of the blue, saying he's checked himself into rehab, Alisa is overcome with joy that God has finally answered her prayers. Then the cop returns and makes it clear that Kurt is a suspect in the murder. But Alisa refuses to believe it. Her son may have fallen into addiction, but murder? No way. When questions begin to arise, she reluctantly finds herself doubting her son. And those doubts are what prompt her to make a choice: "keep silent and keep her son...or risk everything in a quest for the truth."* (tag from the back cover)
This story is about just how far a mother is willing to go to protect her child. Alisa is a Bible believing Christian who is faced with tough choices. Choices that will ultimately bring her closer to or farther away from God. Choices we all face. This book makes the consequences of sin very clear. It also shows what happens when we do things God's way instead of our own.
I loved the pacing of this book, which kept me turning pages. But more than that, it was the characters who stole my heart. I couldn't help but be drawn to Alisa as her mind and heart battled over the right thing to do. A mother myself, how could I not understand the depths of desperation she felt?
The secondary characters were also well developed, especially neighbor-slash-lawyer, Lacey, who brought a bit of humor to the story.
Leaving Yesterday was honest, heart-wrenching, emotional, and real. I would not describe this novel as one ending as "happily-ever-after" with a neat and tidy bow on top. In essence, this is a story that not only leaves yesterday behind but also offers hope for tomorrow.