About the Book
Author: Jennifer Sienes
Genre: Christian Women’s Fiction
Release date: April 13, 2021
How can she forgive a man she isn’t sure she ever knew?
Melissa Bainbridge doesn’t have time to grieve. She has three kids to feed, bills stacked high enough to crush her, and guilt–oh so much guilt.
When her husband’s death is ruled a suicide, her financial stability and identity die with the man she now wonders if she ever knew. How could he choose to leave them like this? How could she have lived with him for 15 years and not known of his fragile mental health?
A journey of discovery reveals more questions than answers until Melissa finally faces her fears and tries to understand the mind of the man she thought she knew and never did.
The journey from despair to hope leads Melissa beyond grief and into the light of forgiveness in Providence.
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About the Author
Jennifer Sienes holds a bachelor’s in psychology and a master’s in education, but discovered life-experience is the best teacher. She loves Jesus, romance and writing–and puts it altogether in inspirational contemporary fiction. Her daughter’s TBI and brother’s suicide inspired two of her three novels. Although fiction writing is her real love, she’s had several non-fiction pieces published in anthologies–two in Chicken Soup for the Soul. She has two grown children and one very spoiled Maltese. California born and raised, she recently took a step of faith with her real-life hero and relocated to Tennessee.
More from Jennifer
For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a novelist. In my naïve mind, it was a romantic endeavor that would take little effort on my part. Growing up, I wrote stories my sisters raved over, and later, stories my kids raved over. I don’t have to tell you, they were an easy audience to please. Still, life happened somewhere in the midst of it all, and I gave up that childish endeavor and became a teacher instead. It might not have been my absolute dream job, but it was second-best, and I figured the pay would be much better.
It wasn’t until years later, when my husband encouraged me to step away from teaching for a year to try my hand at writing. I was thrilled. A whole year to explore my potential as a novelist. The only problem was, I didn’t know what to write about. Over the next several months, I spent more time working in the yard and repainting the interior of the house then I did at my computer. That blank screen was just too daunting.
Then I lost my childhood hero and best friend to suicide. Michael was my Almost-Irish-Twin. I say almost, because I was born three weeks too late to make it official. He and I spent most of our childhood attached at the hip. I don’t know if I hung out with Mike because I was a tomboy, or if I was a tomboy because I hung out with Mike. I taught him the alphabet and how to tie his shoes (it’s true—most girls do advance faster than boys) and he taught me how to catch frogs and fish.
We got into all kinds of escapades together, which I’m sure caused Mom more than a few gray hairs. Mike was a prankster. He had the idea we should pepper his bedroom carpet so Mom would sneeze every time she vacuumed. Our house backed up to a cattle ranch, and he found a bucket and stool and talked me into milking the cows with him. The only problem was, they were steer. He even shared the box of chocolate Ex-Lax with me that he found in our parents’ medicine cabinet. Fortunately for me, his idea of sharing was, “One for you; two for me.” Mom couldn’t get us to the hospital fast enough to have our stomachs pumped.
I was asked by my sister-in-law to speak at Mike’s funeral. I looked out into a church filled with his family and friends. He was a member of Biker’s for Christ, and there were more than a few members dressed in leather. He’d been on a mission trip to Thailand only a couple years before, and he taught others how to evangelize. It was our childhood antics I shared with the attendees, because I wanted them to know the hilarious, loving, prankster that Mike was before his mind had been taken over with bipolar disorder. And when I stepped away from the podium, I clearly heard the Lord whisper to my heart, “This is your story.”
To this day, I still have the Bible he gave me—the first one I ever owned—with an inscription in it to encourage me to not give up during my own season of heartache. He was there through my daughter’s near-fatal accident and resultant coma and traumatic brain injury. He was there when my first husband of almost 23 years walked out for reasons that made no sense. He was there to remind me that God loved me, even when it felt like my life was falling apart—especially when it felt like it was falling apart.
It was exceedingly difficult to lose my big brother, but it was made even more difficult when a woman in my Bible study told me he was going to hell. “Suicide is the unforgivable sin, you know,” she said as I sat with nine other ladies around a friend’s kitchen table. She was misinformed. The only unforgivable sin is the blaspheming of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:31). But I wondered how many other people were misinformed, as well.
Although Providence is Book 3 in my Apple Hill series, I actually wrote it first. The first draft was dark and gloomy, because that’s how I was feeling while grieving the loss of Mike. But as my faith has grown, so has the hope I have in Jesus Christ. I know that God doesn’t waste even one of our tears. When we suffer a loss, it’s His plan and purpose to use it for our good and His glory. I rewrote the novel twice before it spoke that truth loud and clear.
Providence is a story inspired by my brother’s death. And although it is not about Mike, I instilled the character of Trevor with woodworking talent, just like Mike had. The children are not my niece and nephews, but their descriptions and ages, at the time of Mike’s death, were inspired by them. My prayer is that everyone who reads this book will feel the hope and joy we have in our Lord, even when our circumstances tell us different.
I will start my review off with a warning. This book contains suicide and mental health issues and other subjects that may trigger some. I believe this author has written a story that is at the essence of what many deal with or will deal with. It is never easy to lose someone so unexpectedly. Finding out that the person took their own life spirals a family into such deep emotions and blame that I wanted to be there with them. It will be a hard road to forgiveness but in the end it will draw them closer to God.
Melissa is devastated when her husband dies but it is only the beginning of secrets that she will uncover. How do you explain to your three children that their dad took his own life? Her burden is heavy as she tries to juggle unpaid bills, children who are acting out at home and school and her own guilt ? The author delves deep into the subject of suicide in a way that helps readers understand why someone would think this is the only answer to their pain.
I appreciate the author talking about mental illness because the world has put a stigma on the subject that makes people ashamed to get help or tell anyone they are suffering. Melissa starts to understand that her husband was sick and needed help. But why did he not follow through with doctor appointments or medication? This is where the author delivers a powerful story that stirs within me. I was sad when the children were bullied at school and the words said to them were hard to read. For many the thought of suicide is hard to understand. Within the pages of this story the author demonstrates the controversy of suicide and Heaven. I thought she wrote about this with wisdom and references from the Bible.
I loved how the author reminds us that sin is sin. There is no such thing as one sin being worse than the other. The moments when Melissa and her daughter talk about suicide and heaven are very realistic. The message is good when Melissa explains how God forgives us. That is something she had been dealing with about her husband. It was hard for her to get past her anger to allow God to heal her heart. The story is filled with life lessons that we all need to be reminded of. I loved the ending and how God took a family through grief and showed them unconditional love.
“God doesn’t let go of His children.”
I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion.
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To celebrate her tour, Jennifer is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card & a copy of the book!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.