Friday, July 30, 2010

‘The Other Daughter’ by Miralee Ferrell – Book Review

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Finding out that a spouse has a secret child has to be one of the more difficult situations to deal with in life. That is the subject of the first novel by Miralee Ferrell, ‘The Other Daughter.’

Here is the synopsis of this redemptive and heartwarming novel:

The girl standing at the door took a deep breath, pulling her suitcase a little closer to her trembling legs. “My mama’s dead. He’s my daddy.”
Susanne Carson knows that she can trust the love of her life – her husband, David – until she discovers a strange, unkempt young girl on their doorstep, claiming to be David’s daughter.
Not that their marriage has ever been perfect – David’s decision to embrace the Christian faith has strained their relationship. Susanne may not agree with his beliefs, but at least she trusts him. Has David been hiding this not-so-little secret from his past? He wants Susanne to believe in God, but believing hasn’t done much to keep David out of another woman’s arms. What else could her husband be hiding?
As David confronts the truth of his past, Susanne must have her own moment of truth as her marriage is taken to the breaking point and the life of one young girl is left in her hands.

And here’s the trailer for this book:

Here is the biography of the author:

Miralee Ferrell and her husband, Allen, live in a rural community in Washington State. She serves on a staff as a licensed minister at their local church and is actively involved in ministry to women. Miralee developed an interest in writing in high school and took honors English courses in college, but put writing on the back burner for the next thirty years while raising a family and helping her husband in their growing business. Recently, she turned to the pen, publishing a number of short stories and The Other Daughter.

David was as surprised as Susanne when he learned about Brianna:

Susanne and he had started dating when he was seventeen, and he’d never had eyes for anyone since…except that once when he was nineteen. But that was a one-time thing, and he never saw her again. No, it couldn’t be.
He stared at the packet and drummed his fingers on the table. “Time to get this over with.” He slit the top of the big manila envelope and removed a paper, not realizing he was holding his breath until he suddenly let it out. What he saw on the document made him suck it back in. He stared at a birth certificate for Brianna Carsen Warren.
His unbelieving eyes searched until he found the mother’s name: Victoria Warren. Oh Lord, help me! Vicki Warren? Please, God, don’t let that episode come back to haunt me. Susanne will never forgive me. (p. 27)

Susanne had a great deal of difficulty dealing with Brianna’s appearance into their lives. She also was question the God that David served:

David continually made claims about God. God was love. God could do anything. David’s wrong this time. Let’s see You bring anything good out of this, God.
Right now, she trusted herself more than she trusted God; she probably always had. Wasn’t she a capable mother and a faithful wife? She’d never broken David’s trust, never hurt him like this. (p. 33)

In the midst of all this tumult, David’s father (they all called him Grandfather) came to visit, distraught over the recent loss of his wife and David’s mother:

Susanne tucked her hand in Grandfather’s arms and walked toward the door. Why hadn’t she insisted David delay Grandfather’s visit? There was no way she’d reveal David’s lie to the loving older man; he’d never understand. But without that explanation, would he think her unfair? She’d forgotten his intense love for children and sensed he’d champion the idea of Brianna’s remaining in their home. David got his stubbornness from him. Grandfather was one-quarter Nez Perce, and his pride and determination were 100 percent male. (p. 63)

At the same time, Susanne was getting some ungodly counsel from her friend Jeena (who happens to be the subject of Miralee’s book, ‘Finding Jeena’):

Susanne wanted someone to talk to, but dreaded being caught in the middle between her husband and her friend. Jeena was warm and caring and had gone out of her way more than once when Susanne was sick or needed help with a special project, but she didn’t agree with David’s philosophy of life, especially the religious part. Sure, Susanne felt hurt and confused and a part of her wanted to vent. But the other part wanted to be loyal and not hear anything said against David. (p. 88)

Susanne’s main obstacle to following Christ was the idea of ceding control of her life to Him:

Why did David feel she needed more? She had her family, her home, and her health. This new problem was causing stress, but somehow she and David would deal with that without God’s help. She believed in God and believed Jesus was His Son. She’d never had a problem with that, but she didn’t like the idea of turning over her life, and all that that entailed, to God. What if His choices didn’t line up with hers? No, He wanted too much from people. Making Him the Lord of her life didn’t make sense, and she knew enough about Christianity to know that this complete submission was the ultimate goal. She didn’t believe in making half-hearted commitments, and letting anyone direct her life didn’t appeal to her. (pp. 113-114)

David’s father provided some sage advice to his son:

“…Marriage isn’t easy. You both have to work at it, and I’m sure you know that. Love is a choice, not a feeling. We choose to love our mate even when the feelings aren’t there, because it’s what we promised to do. The feelings follow the commitment.”
David nodded.
“Being a parent is much the same. There are times we almost wish we could run away and not have to deal with the problems our children bring us. But God placed them in our lives for a reason. Sometimes it’s for their growth, sometimes for ours. God brought Brianna for a reason, and you need to start praying about it.”
“You’re right. I’ve been so focused on Susanne’s reaction that I’ve forgotten about Brianna’s feelings. I’ve also been concerned about the kids. Meagan told me she was afraid I wouldn’t love her as much anymore, now that Brianna was here. I’ve been trying not to spend too much time with Brianna so Meagan wouldn’t be hurt. (pp. 149-150)

Susanne, over time, came to realize that God only had His best for her, and that a decision was long overdue:

“Oh God, this isn’t easy for me. I began to open my heart to You years ago, but it ended there. I’ve never let You into my life, and I haven’t wanted You in control. I’m changing that now. I’m sorry for being selfish and stubborn. Would You please change me and take control of my life?...Thank you, Jesus. Amen.
She stayed on her knees a few minutes more, soaking in the warm peace enveloping her spirit. Panic at being out of control no longer bound her. The fear evaporated. Could it be this easy? All these years, I’ve needed to let go and let God be in control to have this feeling of peace? If I’d listened to David years ago instead of fighting him over church and God, our marriage could have been so much better.
She got off her knees and realized this was the first moment of her new life. Looking back was worthless…it was time to look forward. (p. 239)

Susanne decided to share her decision with Brianna, which led again to angels rejoicing in heaven (Luke 15:7):

“I’m glad you came to live with us. I’ve decided that God needed to be in charge of our family. David has always felt that way, but I didn’t agree with him. I know now that God really does love us and it’s okay to trust Him.”
Brianna nodded and moved out of Susanne’s entrance. “I think I’d like to do what you did, if that’s okay. I’d like to ask God to take care of my life.”
“Of course it’s okay, Brianna! In fact, it’s wonderful.”
Meagan began bouncing on the bed again. “We can pray right now, can’t we, Mom?”
“Of course.” Susanne led Brianna in a prayer, giving her another long hug when she finished.
“Now you’re my sister for real,” Meagan exclaimed, “and we’ll go to heaven and be together forever!” (p. 275)

I will not give away the ending, but suffice to say it was happy! God did an amazing work in the life of the Carson family – all five of them!

This is the second book by Miralee that I have read – ‘Love Finds You in Bridal Veil, Oregon’ was the first (you can read my review here). That one was terrific, as well – and such a different genre (historical fiction). To me, that is the mark of a gifted writer – one that can write compellingly and compassionately in more than one genre. Miralee has accomplished that! I have also just finished reading ‘Finding Jeena’ and will be reviewing that one very shortly.

I have come away profoundly touched every time I have read a Miralee Ferrell book. I have come to consider Miralee as one of my favorite novelists, and I look forward to the next one from her fertile mind and prolific computer, as given to her by the Holy Spirit!

You can order this book here.

This book was published by Kregel Publications and generously provided by them and by the author for review purposes.


Miralee Ferrell said...

Wow! That's the most comprehensive review I've ever read. Nice job! I do hope it won't spoil the story for those who haven't read it, though, to have quite so much of the main highlights shown here? Maybe not, as little of it was a story spoiler. Either way, I'm thrilled that you enjoyed my book and very much look forward to the review for Finding Jeena.

So I guess the only one you've missed is Love Finds You in Last Chance, CA. And of course, next Feb. Love Finds You in Tombstone, AZ releases. Both of those are set in the old west.

Blessings and thanks again!

Miralee Ferrell

Andrea Schultz said...

Hi Miralee -
I try not to give everything away in my reviews; just enough to whet the appetite of the potential reader - and to highlight how the Lord is glorified! That is my intention.
You're welcome, and I look forward to your next title!
Blessings -

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