Here is the first paragraph from Beyond Summer. This first paragraph grabbed my attention as the words reached my heart bringing such truth in my life:
"It’s strange, the things you look past in a normal day--the big picture you don’t see, while you’re busy focusing on all the little things that seem to matter in the moment. Good hair, an outfit that looks just right, a green light ahead when you’re in a hurry to make an appointment, a short line at Starbucks, a straight shot down the fairway in a game of golf, a smile from a cute guy in the parking lot. You rub your life like Aladdin’s lamp, and magic floats out in little clouds. It works time, after time, after time. You never stop to consider that there could be a day when a charmed life isn't charmed anymore. At that point, the wishes become prayers, and you hope against hope that God will take up where the wishing lamp left off."
We see storms come and go and in one summer three lives are changed forever. The storms of life can either break us or make us stronger. In this story we find three main characters intertwined with many more. These characters have a strength they have yet to find. A strength they will find through the storms in their lives. It is a strength that will bind them all together for life.
We meet Tam Lambert. She is a young woman that has had everything laid at her feet. She has just expected to have all she needs and wants at her wish. But life changes when her father has gotten caught up in the greed of business. Tam is surrounded by her step-mother and siblings. This family is caught up in the world and all the material things it offers, but there is one in this family. One that seems a little off, but to me she is the one who has it all together and shows the others what life is really about. That is Aunt Lute.
We also meet Shasta, the girl who left everything for love. Married her high school sweetheart and is a mother of two. It seems she just jumps into life without looking and finds herself wishing she would have thought things through. Shasta wants more out of life. She is tired of struggling and just wants her family to accept her decisions.
Then there is Sesay, a homeless woman who touches the lives of many through her art work. She has this gift of creating, but doesn't quite no it yet. She wants to reach out to others, but is fearful of opening her heart. She carries a deep past with her that holds much pain. She is trying to forget and seek a new life, but how does one do that when one has nothing?
These characters all live in the same neighborhood. They are all in need of something. And what one needs there is another who can give. I loved this book from the very first page. These three characters are those we can all relate to in one way or another. We tend to take everything in life for granted and yes, we all have our prejudices against those who are different. But it is really because they are different or that we just don't understand them because we are too caught up in our own lives, in our own worlds to really see another? This book opens our hearts to others. It takes us through the storms of families trying to just see the light through the rain. As storms and trials come, we see how the Lord moves through those willing vessels bringing rich blessings to all they meet. It's not the material things in life that bring happiness. It is the sheer joy of love for life and the simple act of loving others.
This is one book you will love for the summer. It is captivating and carries many valuable lessons, along with characters you will have a heart for.
This book was a gift from Lisa Wingate for it's review.
Lisa lives in central Texas where she is a popular inspirational speaker, magazine columnist, and national bestselling author of several books. Her novel, Tending Roses, received dozens of five-star reviews, sold out sixteen printings for New York publisher, Penguin Putnam, and went on to become a national bestselling book. Tending Roses was a selection of the Readers Club of America, and is currently in its fourteenth printing.