Wednesday, March 3, 2010

'Allegheny Hopes' by Janice A. Thompson - Book Review

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Janice Thompson is the prolific author of many books.  The first book that I have read  is ‘Swinging on a Star’ in the ‘Weddings by Bella’ series.  I found it to be lighthearted and fun!

The latest book from Mrs. Thompson that I had the opportunity to read is ‘Allegheny Hopes.’  ‘Allegheny Hopes’ is a collection of romantic Christian fiction stories.  I found this to be a unique concept – three stories in one book, with the common element being that all three of the stories are set in the state of Pennsylvania.  And the other common element is that the main character in each story is learning to come to terms with mistakes in their past, and being able to move forward from there.

Janice, in her introduction, states:

“You will notice that each story has a prologue set in the past and then the first chapter jumps to the present.  Perhaps you can relate.  I pray that, in reading these stories, you will let the Lord release you from the sin/pain in your past.  May you, through the freedom He offers through His Son, step boldly into the future.  And may you, like these characters, know what it means to have a mountaintop experience – one as magnificent as the Alleghenies themselves!”

The first story, entitled ‘Red Like Crimson,’ is based in Philadelphia and highlights the story of Adrianne Russo, who works as a curator at the Franklin Institute.  Adrienne had grown up in a Christian home.  During her college years, she had engaged in conduct to which she thought there was no forgiveness.  Eight years later, she is still struggling with that choice.  God brought Christopher Bradley, the love of her life, to the museum one day.  During an event at her church, her pastor discussed the subject of forgiveness:

Adrianne listened intently, thankful for the Lord’s reminder that she could not only put the past behind her, but that He would remember it no more.
“How do we receive this forgiveness?” Pastor Monahan asked.  “When you come to the Lord, truly repentant, and put your trust in the work done on the cross, your sins are washed away.  Erased.  Doesn’t matter how big.  Doesn’t matter how bad.  The blood of Jesus was – and is – sufficient to wash away any trace or stain of sin.” (p. 70)

Another lesson that I appreciated in this story is that we are called to the mission field – and that our pasture is our mission field; we don’t have to go to a foreign country to do the work of the Kingdom.  Every day should be a day that we are led by the Holy Spirit to speak truth.

The second story, ‘White as Snow,’ is set in Pittsburgh.  There are three primary characters in this story – Brianna Nichols, her ‘Gran-Gran’ Abbey Nichols, and Brady Campbell, the new quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Brianna had been hurt and let down in life, and she was very protective of her heart, which actually kept her from experiencing joy in life.  God moved in this story by placing Brady in the duplex adjoining Brianna and Abbey.  Over time, healing took place on many fronts in all of their lives.

The third story, ‘Out of the Blue,’ is initially set in Paradise, Pennsylvania, in Lancaster County, the heart of Amish country.  I particularly enjoyed this section of the book, as I am a big admirer of the Amish culture.  I visited that area of Pennsylvania as a child, and have visited other Amish communities in Indiana and Ohio; I appreciate their peaceful and forgiving nature.
The main character in this story, Katie Walken, had decided to become an ‘Englisher,’ the name Amish people call the rest of us!  Twelve years after the time of the prologue, she is living in Doylestown, PA, (north of Philadelphia) living the busy life of a realtor.  One day in the office, she encountered her former Amish suitor, Karl Borg, who’d also left the Amish world and was now an attorney.   

This particular story is a great introduction to the Amish lifestyle.  Janice discusses many of their customs, including rumspringa, their funeral traditions, shunning, etc…

I enjoyed this book a great deal.  Mrs. Thompson writes with a light and entertaining touch, while at the same time focusing on important spiritual themes.  I particularly appreciated that she focused on the forgiveness and redemption that comes to us when we accept Jesus as our savior.  His crimson blood makes our sin as white as snow.  I am still in the process of accepting that He has completed the work already – on the cross.  He wants us to forgive ourselves as He has already forgiven us.  I think many Christians are still in process of accepting that, and I appreciate how Janice wants us to receive the freedom that comes in Christ.  I would highly recommend this book to those of you who enjoy romantic fiction – and particularly those of you who are still struggling with accepting forgiveness of self.

This book was generously provided to me by the author.


Janice Thompson said...

Bless you for this sweet review! I am so grateful. Glad you enjoyed the stories. As you can see, I write all sorts of romantic tales, funny and otherwise. Most of my later books are funny, so look for more of those from me in the near future. :)

Andrea Schultz said...

Hi Janice -
Thanks for stopping by! I look forward to reading 'It Had to be You' next!
You are a Godly and funny lady!
Blessings -

Deborah M said...

Anything Janice writes has to be good. Looking forward to reading this one.
Deborah M.

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