Wednesday 1 April 2020

Come Back to Me - Carolyn Astfalk - Stay With Me Book 2

Come Back to Me
Stay With Me Book 2
Carolyn Astfalk
Full Quiver Publishing

ISBN 9781987970135

This was the fourth novel by Carolyn Astfalk that I have read, I have also read her short story in the collections, Secrets: Visible & Invisible 7 Amazing Stories and Gifts Visible & Invisible 8 Christmas Stories for Teens. I have not read book 1 in this series, Stay With Me. I did pick it up over two and a half years ago, but it remained in my ‘to be read’ list on my Kindle. I only found that out after finishing this and going to buy it. And found out I had bought it 30 months ago. It is not the top fiction in my ‘to be read’ pile.

The advantage of reading them out of order is I can state that this book stands really well on its own. It was such a compelling read that as soon as I finished it, I wanted to read book 1. 

At the time of writing this review this book is ranked in the following categories on Amazon Worldwide:

Contemporary Christian Fiction (Kindle Store)
Contemporary Religious Fiction
Inspirational Religious Fiction

And on Amazon Canada:
Religious Fiction
Religious & Inspirational Fiction

Typically as a middle-aged guy I do not normally read romances. Some of the YA Books I have read have a romance element, but usually written around adventure or mystery. But I would say this story is less of a romance and more of a Christian living story. Life is hard, relationships are hard, marriage is work. And As this story portrays those who have a Christian or Catholic faith element in their lives are not spared these, but they have a strength in them. When the two brothers in the story are talking at one point we are told:

“Yeah. Benign, thank God. But still.” Chris picked up the shovel and started pushing snow toward the end of the driveway, his voice drifting over his shoulder. “He’s going to have surgery. So, no, my faith isn’t some kind of magic get-outta-jail-free card.” Shovel loaded with snow, he stopped and said, “But it does mean I don’t deal with all of this alone. And it—all suffering—has meaning and purpose.” He resumed shoving the fluffy powder down the drive. “But I still think you’re missing the point.” 
Alan caught up to him, snatching the shovel from his hands. “How so?” 
“It’s not what I can get out of it. If that’s all you’re after—some kind of prosperity gospel—don’t waste your time.”

In part the story revolves around these two brothers and their marriages. The story begins with Chris being kicked out of the house by his wife, and he really has no idea why. He ends up bunking with his brother Alan, and his new bride, who is expecting their first. Things go from bad to worse for Chris, as he is laid off, and after his mother-in-law has surgery she moves in with his wife for help during her recovery.

This story could be about my own brothers, guys I grew up with or even friends now. It is very real. At times raw. But also open an honest. The characters are exceptionally well written. And in some ways it reminds me of some of Madeleine L’Engle’s more mature Chronos stories or her adult fiction and adult non-fiction. There are echo’s in this story that could lead to something like L’Engle’s Two-Part Invention: The Story of a Marriage.

I could hardly put this book down. It is a page turner. You will find yourself drawn in, and the characters will become like friends, and you will find yourself invested in what is happening to and with them. It is a very realistic read. And I devoured the book in a single day on my commute to and from work, and reading through my lunch and coffee breaks. 

This is another excellent read from Astfalk’s pen. It is an excellent Christian novel, with a cautionary tale, and a story that contains stories of redemption, recovery, and marriage. I am very thankful I gave it and read and I am sure you will enjoy it if you give it a chance.

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