Sunday, July 4, 2010

Books Read in 2010

Catching Moondrops

I must admit I was eagerly awaiting the October release of Jennifer Erin Valent’s conclusion to her trilogy of books about Jessilyn Lassiter. What a treat it was to receive my very first ARC (advance reader copy) in early June and find none other than the last book - Catching Moondrops - to this delightful story. I promptly posted on Twitter and Facebook to all my friends that I felt like someone important to have received an ARC. And the timing couldn’t have been more perfect – I was leaving for vacation in five days. A perfect book for pool time reading!

Book Summary: (from back cover)

Jessilyn Lassiter no longer has to convince people she’s not a child. Having just turned 19 in the summer of 1938, her love for Luke Talley has never been more real. And Luke is finally beginning to care for her in the way she’s always dreamed of. But their budding romance is interrupted when Tal Pritchett—a young, black doctor—comes to Calloway, stealing the heart of Jessilyn’s best friend, Gemma, and stirring up the racial prejudice that has been simmering just beneath the town’s surface. The tension starts to bubble over when Jessie’s elderly neighbor Miss Cleta becomes the first white townsperson to accept Tal’s treatment. And when a young black man is lynched, Calloway is brought to its knees once again as Jessilyn realizes that her anger can make her heart as full of hate as the klan members who have terrorized her town and her family.

I’ll confess one of my motivating factors for wanting to eagerly read the last book in this series. I was dying to find out what happened between Jessilyn and Luke Talley, a young man and family friend that Jessilyn has crushed on since he saved her from drowning as a thirteen-year-old girl. Would Luke finally tell Jessilyn his true feelings about her? Would the Klan hurt one of them and squash all their possibilities for happiness? Would they get married?

Now, I won’t dare spoil this review with the answers to these questions. However, I will tell you that my stomach hasn’t fluttered with that many nervous butterflies since the time I was dating nine years ago! The gift Luke gives Jessilyn on her 19th birthday will take your breath away…it’s that clever and amazing! Quite simply, Valent has mastered writing about tender, young love in a way that is pure but ever more exciting than typical romantic novels. It really is an art! As women read Catching Moondrops, I think they will reflect on their own dating years and wistfully wish there had been a Luke Talley in their life and the sheer patience to wait for love to mature over time.

While Valent has a gift at writing romantic prose, she should also be applauded for writing Christian fiction in a way that doesn’t come off as trite, predicable and, well, “Christian.” While there is certainly a Christian point of view woven through her novels by design, I know that many non-believers will find the books immensely fulfilling and plant seeds for examining and challenging their own faith. The fact that Valent wrote about Jessilyn’s tailspin into hate, bitterness and unforgiveness is to be applauded. How many of us have felt the emotions that Jessilyn felt as we came to grips with our faith and humanity? Jessilyn’s faith journey is written in a raw and realistic manner that is so refreshing in Christian literature.

It was so sad to close the book on Jessilyn and Luke, but Valent tied up the loose ends well enough that I felt satisfied and absolutely ready to read the next book this new author writes! For those of you who are waiting patiently for this book to show up in bookstores…you won’t be disappointed. For those of you who have not read the first two books – Fireflies in December and Cottonwood Whispers – You have less than three months to get caught up and ready for the October release!

To recap:
Worth reading? Yes

Worth buying my own copy? Yes

Recommend to friends? Yes

Stars: 5 out of 5