“Forever After” by Deborah Raney was sent to me as an advanced review copy by Howard Books. This title will be realeased on June 14, 2011. It is the second in the three-book “Hanover Falls” series by this author. You can read my review of the first book, “Almost Forever,” here.
“Forever After” continues the story of the lives of the people who were affected by the fire at the Hanover Falls homeless shelter the previous year. This novel is told from the point of view of Lucas, the firefighter who was seriously injured in the fire, and from Jenna, a young widow of one of the firefighters killed in the blaze.
Lucas has endured over a year of recovery and therapy as the result of his injuries in the Grove Street Homeless Shelter fire. On top of that, his father was one of the firefighters who perished the night of the fire, and he has had to deal with why his father was taken and he was left. Lucas is struggling to find his place in a world that is now so foreign to him.
Jenna’s world was forever changed the night of the shelter fire. Her husband, Zach, never returned from that late-night run, leaving Jenna and Zach’s parents adrift in a world that practically revolved around him. Now, a year later, Jenna is struggling to see where her life is going. She doesn’t want to go back to where she came from, but she also doesn’t know how to sustain the artificial existence in which she has lived over the past few years.
Through the course of the novel, Lucas and Jenna help each other move forward into lives that neither of them planned for themselves. At the same time, things are still occurring at the homeless shelter that have the residents of Hanover Falls wondering if it should have been put back into operation after the first fire.
Like the first book in this series, “Forever After” delves into the topics of forgiveness and faith. I always enjoy a Christian fiction novel that tells the story of someone giving his/her heart and life to Christ. I also appreciated how the author showed a character who had gone through some deep water spiritually but who came through with an even firmer commitment to living their life by faith.
I think I enjoyed this second book in the series a little more than the first one. It didn’t feel as heavy since there had been somewhat of a significant time period since the actual tragedy of the fire had taken place. It didn’t feel as odd that the two main characters in this book were drawn to each other. I also really like it when ‘series books’ continue the over-arching storyline from one to the other while focusing on different characters in that story. This makes these books easier to read as stand-alone novels if you want.
While I thought this book was written well, there were a couple of things that bothered me. One thing was that at one point Lucas is driving in his truck over a long period of time, and he talks to Jenna on his cell phone the whole time! In my head, I was thinking that maybe he was using a hands-free device, but then it is made clear that he wasn’t. I know that this might not seem like a big deal, but it really bothered me!
The other thing was that the people in this book drank coffee all the time! Now, I am not a coffee drinker, but it seemed as if every time they turned around they were going for coffee or making coffee. Lucas and Jenna seemed to be able to have a serious conversation only over a cup of coffee!
I realize that these critiques are small. Please don’t let them dissuade you from reading what is a good second offering in the Hanover Falls series. I look forward to the final chapter in the lives of those affected by the Grove Street Homeless Shelter fire.
I will give “Forever After”…. 3 ½ BookWorms
You can see my review of this novel online at "The Christian Manifesto" here.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher, Howard Books, as an advanced review copy. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
*** Spoiler Alert ***
I need to also tell about another thing that bothered me in this book. I felt like I was already giving too much away in this review in telling some of my gripes. But, I have to put this in, too. At one point in this story, Lucas goes to a training session several hours away. By this point he and Jenna are somewhat dating, and they will be separated for six weeks. Jenna freaks out! “Six weeks?” she says, in the same way you would say six YEARS. That seemed very odd to me. It would be extremely difficult to be separated from my husband and daughter for six weeks, but I could do it if I had to. It would be much harder for me to do that than it would be for this 20-something girl to not see her semi-boyfriend for that long. The whole conversation they had about the separation just made it seem like it was the end of the world. Please.