This has been the hardest review for me to write. At first I thought it might be because I know Jeanne and knew Jacob's story before reading the book. But what I've decided is that the book is so "full" that a simple review can't capture it all.
I met Jeanne at an ACFW writers' conference several years ago (2004 I think?) when we took Gayle Roper's intensive critique class. You know how there are some people you just click with? Jeanne was like that for me. She was fun to be around and found the same things amusing and interesting as I did.
At one point during the conference we were sitting at a table talking about our children. She told me briefly about Jacob and then said, "We've gotten to the point where we're not just thankful through it, but because of it, because of how we've seen God work through his accident."
She said it almost matter of factly, no pride, no great pronouncement of their holiness, just a simple acknowledgment of seeing God at work. Her words stuck with me precisely because I couldn't quite imagine being there if I were in her shoes.
As I read through Parting the Waters I cried often. Not so much from sadness but from that "fullness" I talked about earlier. From seeing God work in such personal ways in their lives, in the lives of their neighbors, friends, and people they didn't even know.
So often we ask God why bad things happen. So often that question is a stumbling block in someone's belief. Yet with Parting the Waters Jeanne shows how God walked with them every step, how He made His presence felt, how they clung to Him. By the end, I felt it was less a story about Jacob and more of a story about God and His tender love for His children.
There were a few parts of Jeanne shining through the pages. Her beautiful prose, her story-telling skills that keep you turning the pages, her heart for other people. She made such an effort to note the people who were involved in every situation and to represent their words and actions. She even includes a section at the end of the book where various players tell Jacob's story in their own words.
But what struck me the most was how vulnerable Jeanne made herself. There are details in the story that she could have kept to herself. But her heart for helping others going through painful situations, to know that they aren't alone, that their reactions are normal and part of the process...all of that showed as she bled on to the page.
As author Lisa Samson says on the cover of Parting the Waters, this book is for anyone who's life hasn't turned out quite as they expected.
Sounds like all of us.
Find it here:
More about Jeanne here.