In a desperate time, can Neva find forgiveness for a grievous wrong—and make room for hope?
Neva Shilling has a heavy load of responsibility while her husband travels to neighboring communities and sells items from his wagon. In his absence, she faithfully runs the Shilling Mercantile, working to keep their business strong as the Depression takes its toll, and caring for their twins.
When a wagon pulls up after supper, Neva and her children rush out—and into the presence of the deputy driving a wagon carrying three young children. The deputy shocks her with the news that Warren and his wife have died, insisting it was their last request that the three children go live with “Aunt Neva.”
Neva’s heart is shattered as she realizes that Warren’s month-long travels were excuses for visits with his secret family. She wants nothing more than to forget Warren, but can she abandon these innocent children to an orphanage? Yet if she takes them in, will she ever be able to see them as more than evidence of her husband’s betrayal and love them the way God does?
Continue reading for my thoughts on this beautiful novel and also for an excerpt from it.
Kim Vogel Sawyer takes her readers to Kansas in a beautiful tale of hardship, scandal and unconditional love.
It’s 1936, and Neva Shilling is running her husband’s store with the aid of her twin children. They live in relative comfort for the time, are known for their generosity, and Warren Shilling is considered a pillar of the community. All of this changes when the new sheriff arrives in town with three orphans who’ve been sent to live with “Aunt Neva.” Warren has died and these are the children he had with another woman in another town. At first, Neva wants nothing to do with them but the only other option is an orphanage and Neva knows exactly what it’s like to live in one of those. Her daughter becomes a mother hen to the youngsters, but her son resents their intrusion and sees the boy as a rival for his inheritance. When the people of the town discover the children’s identity, the entire family is shunned.
Room for Hope is a fascinating story about the struggle to maintain grace when your world collapses around you, and I found it difficult to put down. Sawyer has written sympathetic characters, from the three innocents to Neva’s business rival who proves that initial appearances can be deceptive. Remarkably, there is no obvious romance as the main emphasis is on the relationships between the Shillings and other residents of the town. I waited for what I thought would be the inevitable romance between two characters but was happy to be found wanting. This novel is also a good portrait of a country slowly coming out of the Great Depression.
Not everything is completely tied up by the book’s ending so it does leave room for a sequel. I had questions about Warren. Who was this man who could be so duplicitous but be so admired by so many in two different communities? What made him do what he did? Although he never appears in the narrative, he is the central character. Without him, there is no story. His actions had consequences for his loved ones that were only revealed after his death. Was he repentant when he died? Perhaps that’s a tale for another time.
Thank you to Waterbrook Multnomah for my complimentary copy of Room for Hope, which I received in exchange for my honest review.
Have you read Room for Hope? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.
Publisher: Waterbrook Press (a division of Random House)
Publication Date: 16 February 2016
Page Count: 352