The Survivor

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The Survivor

Families of Honor, Book Three

Mattie Lapp may be only 23 years old but she's endured more than most women her age. She's conquered her battle against cancer and now is ready to start the life she's always dreamed of, one of marriage and children. Throughout her ordeal her best friend, Graham Weaver, has stood by her side offering encouragement and helping her keep her faith. Years ago, Mattie had hoped that their friendship would evolve into something more but it never did. Perhaps though, Graham could find a nice man for Mattie to court.

Graham truly cares for Mattie. He tried courting Jenna Yoder but she just wasn't Mattie. The problem is, he isn't sure how to move their friendship into something more. When Mattie asks him to find a nice man to court her, he's shocked and hurt. Can't she see that he's more than willing to be that man?

Graham soon has more problems than changing his relationship with Mattie. Jenna has announced that she is pregnant and he's the father! Graham knows that there is no way that he is Jenna's baby's father but the community keeps waiting for him to do the right thing. Will Mattie believe Graham or will she believe the lies that Jenna is spreading?

Jenna can't tell who the father is of her baby. He's not even Amish! She's sure she was just used and that the father will not want anything to do with her or the baby. Jenna is going to have to make some hard decisions soon though, as her parents have thrown her out of the house.

This is the third and final book in Shelley Shepard Gray's Families of Honor series. You do not need to read the previous books to thoroughly enjoy this one though the characters/families from the previous books are in this one. Also, a storyline concerning Graham's uncle John continues in this book.

The characters feel real. There is a depth to them that gives them life and they do live normal lives. Each character has a family, friends and work. They interact with each other and none are perfect. Mattie deals with a life she desires and the life she's been dealt. Graham has to look deep as he struggles with community pressure. Jenna has ventured into a society where she's not sure of the rules and crossed a line she shouldn't have. Their faith is all they can rely on at some points.

There is a definite community feel. Things don't just happen on the farms or within the family areas. Graham works at a factory. His Uncle John owns a coffee shop while Jenna needs to find work. Programs at the library are described as are quick trips into the grocery store. The small town that these characters live, work and visit is real.

One of the most amazing aspects of this book though is the serious issues that are addressed. Mattie is young yet she's battled cancer. Her body has changed and she needs to deal with that. Jenna is pregnant out of wedlock. This is against everything she has been brought up to believe. She's also been thrown out of the only home she's ever known leaving her to find a place to live and a way to support herself. Mattie also has to deal with a suitor who doesn't take no for an answer. None of these issues are usually found in inspirational romance novels yet Ms Gray not only includes them but weaves them into a fantastic loving story.

I thoroughly enjoyed visiting Mattie and Graham. I even enjoying meeting Jenna. I felt as if they were friends and I was catching up with what was going on in their lives. Once I started their story, I had no desire to put down the book until I finished it. Then, at the end was a teaser for a Christmas story that is not yet out. I can't wait for that book!

I have to highly recommend this and all of Ms Gray's books. She brings a community that most never really get to know to life and makes up feel as if you are part of it. Her characters are part of families and interact with a greater world. But, one of the most important factors is the characters' faith is challenged in various ways and Ms Gray is able to express the need to have faith no matter what without being preachy.

Book Blurb for The Survivor

Mattie’s body has healed from the cancer that nearly took her life . . . but can she find the man who can mend her lonely heart?

Mattie has faced more in her twenty-three years than she ever imagined possible. Having successfully battled cancer, she’s ready to reenter the world with hopes for her future. But while she was in and out of hospitals, other Amish girls her age were courting and finding the men they would marry. The only man who’s ever made her heart beat faster is Graham Weaver, her best friend, who has always been there to comfort her, in good times and bad. Is it finally time for their friendship to become something more?

But cruel gossip is spreading, claiming that Graham’s the father of the baby Jenna Yoder’s carrying. Will Mattie’s dreams of a happily-ever-after be crushed before they’ve left the ground?

Night Owl Reviews Oct, 2011 5.00