Sunday, March 4, 2012

Heart of the Country by Rene Gutteridge and John Ward

Faith and Luke Carraway have it all. Faith is a beautiful singer turned socialite while Luke is an up-and-coming successful businessman. After taking his inheritance from his father’s stable, lucrative business to invest in a successful hedge fund with the Michov Brothers, he’s on the fast track as a rising young executive, and Faith is settling comfortably into her role as his wife.

When rumors of the Michovs' involvement in a Ponzi scheme reach Faith, she turns to Luke for confirmation, and he assures her that all is well. But when Luke is arrested, Faith can’t understand why he would lie to her, and she runs home to the farm and the family she turned her back on years ago. Meanwhile, Luke is forced to turn to his own family for help as he desperately tries to untangle himself from his mistakes. Can two prodigals return to families they abandoned, and will those families find the grace to forgive and forget? Will a marriage survive betrayal when there is nowhere else to run but home?

The novel Heart of The Country by Rene Gutteridge and John Ward is a beautiful and heart wrenching tale of redemption and forgiveness. I was blown away by the plot of the novel, with its twists and turns and the desperate need of the two prodigals for forgiveness and God. Because the novel was based on a screenplay, it took me awhile to get used to the structure and begin to understand what was happening. The flashbacks of Faith's mother were interesting, but they sometimes were distracting and took away from the story. However, despite this, I do not think the story would have been complete without them. The quick movement of time through the first few chapters also threw me as sometimes it would be a couple months between two chapters, and then it would be a few years between the next couple chapters. However, once the story settled and time slowed down to a normal pace, I really began to enjoy the unfolding of the plot.

I particularly appreciated the change of first person character perspectives from Faith to Luke to Olivia. It was definitely the best way for the reader to understand and glimpse the feelings and thoughts that defined the characters. I also felt it was appropriate to end on the perspective of Faith's father. The characters themselves were well written and extremely well developed considering they were based out of a screenplay. The growth in Faith, Luke, and even Olivia was incredible to see, and there several times where I found myself relating to different aspects of their thoughts and lives.

Probably my favorite character was Faith and Olivia's father because of his incredible love for his daughters, his desire for their happiness, and his never ending trust and faith in God. The way he orchestrated some of the final events of the book brought tears to my eyes. I was also blown away by the great love that Luke's father extended to Luke in the midst of his darkest hour even when it meant losing a great deal of money. The love shown by the fathers in this novel is such a great reminder of the expansive love that God our Father shows to us.

Overall, this novel was an incredible read and a beautiful parallel to Jesus' parable of the prodigal son and the great love of God the Father and Jesus.

I received this novel for free from Tyndale Publishers and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

If you purchase The Heart of the County ebook (only 2.99!), you will receive a code that will allow you to enter an incredible contest for a chance to see the set of the Heart of the County movie as well as other cool opportunities. The contest details can be found at this link

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