Samantha is dreading her return home. Throughout her life, she had a rocky relationship with her mother—and now her mother is all she has left.
Through a nostalgic look back, Samantha recognizes the presence of God in an ordinary life. She learns more about herself as a wife and mother who has had her share of sorrow and blessings. As her faith increases, she is able to see her mother through new eyes, leading to reconciliation…and is reminded of that every time she sees Heaven Shining Through.
I received this book from the author for the purpose of this review. All comments and opinions are entirely my own.
I read this novella in one sitting. It’s a short 64 pages long and easy to read.
Overall, it was a pleasant story, though it did include some mature elements. The characters were enjoyable and there was some humor. However, I didn’t really get it. The story starts with Samantha visiting her mother after her father has passed away and we get the idea that they’re in an estranged relationship and have been for a long time. As Samantha washes her mom’s dishes, she thinks back on her life. But after a brief description of her childhood, the story quickly centers around Samantha and her relationship with Chad, rather than her relationship with her mom.
The novella gives a detailed account of how Samantha and Chad start dating, get engaged, their adventurous married life, raising their children together, etc. While I enjoyed it, I forgot all about Samantha’s mom until we returned to the present toward the end of the story. Samantha realizes her mom is dying and they have a sudden reconciliation before the book’s ending.
So was Heaven Shining Through about Samantha and Chad’s sweet and romantic relationship or her tense relationship with her mom? I don’t know.
Another thing that struck me as odd about this story was how biographical it felt. I understand that Samantha is reflecting on her life, but the minute details given (like the exact dates they got married or their children were born) made me feel like I was reading Samantha’s biography rather than a novel about Samantha. The story relayed event after event much like a biography would. It made me wonder if the author was somehow reminiscing his own life through this story.
I think the reconciliation at the end would have been more moving if there were more scenes between Samantha and her mom throughout the book or at least better set up of the mom’s guilt. Her mom didn’t treat Samantha very well (although to be frank, Samantha didn’t treat her very well either) so it’s understandable that at some point she’d feel guilty. But what spurred the emotion on? What finally made it click? Besides maybe the fact she knew she was dying, I don’t why she finally let go of her stubbornness considering she’d had many opportunities to before.
Ironically, I was more touched by Samantha and Chad’s devotion to each other (especially at their tragic end) than by anything to do with Samantha and her mom.
In conclusion, I give Heaven Shining Through 3 out of 5 stars. While never graphic, there are a few mature scenes between Samantha and Chad. There’s little to no cursing. The main reason I give this story 3 stars, though, is the confusing focus of the story.
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I loved your honesty … an author’s most valuable tool. I understand your “confusion”. In fact, I am addressing just that issue with a rewrite/sequel to flesh out the characters more and make a better connection. When it’s ready, I’ll let you know for another chance.