About the Book
Book: Song of Sugar Sands
Author: Debra Coleman Jeter
Genre: Christian Romance
Release Date: August 21, 2019
Award-winning book that recently earned acclaim from the prestigious 2020 Next Generation Indie Book Awards!
Acadia Powers knows herself to be too selfish, too sinful, and too skeptical in her faith to marry a preacher. And yet she does. God truly does work in a mysterious way. Acadia nearly lost her faith at an early age due to what she saw as the hypocrisy of her parents’ generation. In college—where the novel begins—she meets and falls in love with Peter O’Neil, who is fervent in his faith and wants to share the good news with the world. Can she reach deep enough inside, or beyond herself, to find what she needs to keep on trying, or has she made too many mistakes already?
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How do I start this review without crying? I have been shedding tears hours after finishing a story that reached deep into my soul. The author is incredible at sharing a story that spans a period of a young couple as they graduate college and marry. At first I wasn’t sure if Acadia would really marry Peter. She has doubts right up until the preacher pronounced them husband and wife.
Acadia seems in turmoil through most of the story. I began to think of her as “Doubting Thomas.” She wasn’t very encouraging to Peter as he begins his journey as a new pastor of a church. I did understand how Acadia felt she was never good enough for her parents and that did cause problems throughout the story. In her heart she wanted to believe that God loved her, but something was holding her back. I realized she was dealing with guilt from her past and insecurity that made her run every time there was a crisis. Not wanting to face her own problems only distanced herself further from her husband and God.
Peter was easy to like with his compassion for others. He is very patient with Acadia and wants to show her how much she is loved by many. Peter does have his own hurdles to face as members of the church don’t support the changes he wants to make. Oh how I wanted to tell some of those people to stop being so judgmental and set in their ways. The author does a great job of letting us see how being a pastor is difficult at times. His personal life is starting to make him lose focus. Can his marriage be restored?
There are two very special secondary characters in the story that for me were the highlight of the entire book. They each had very tough issues they were facing and through them we witness forgiveness, unconditional love and trusting God. I wanted to hug them both and tell them that they made a difference in many people’s lives.The author tackles some tough issues with grace and honesty. I loved how we witness what it is like to reach out to others in their darkest moments and show them they are accepted and loved.
I wonder what it would be like if we all did what Jesus called us to do? He wants us love, accept and support each other. We don’t need to point out sin, but instead show love to one another. Many of us have struggled with our faith and at times are ashamed to talk to God. There are days that I question why God allows things that hurt to happen. I cry over the people I have seen lose their battle with cancer and get angry. Then I read a book like this and know that God never gives us more than we can handle. He puts people in our lives for a reason and He always is there waiting for us to embrace Him. We are forgiven and can find unconditional love when we surrender all to Him.
I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion.
About the Author
Jeter is thrilled her most recent novel, Song of Sugar Sands, has received acclaim as a Finalist in the Christian Fiction category of the 2020 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. A Professor Emerita at Vanderbilt University, Debra Coleman Jeter has published in popular magazines, including Working Woman, New Woman, Self, Home Life, Savvy, Christian Woman, and American Baby. Her first novel, The Ticket, was a finalist in two categories for a Selah Award. Her short story, “Recovery,” won first prize in a competition sponsored by Christian Woman; and her book “Pshaw, It’s Me Grandson” was a finalist in the USA Book News Awards. She is a co-writer of the screenplay for Jess + Moss, a feature film which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, screened at nearly forty film festivals around the world, and captured several international awards.
She loves to be in the water—whether snorkeling, water skiing, boogie boarding, or just floating around—which may explain the setting for her newest series. Her family suspects her of being selkie. The Sugar Sands novels are set in a small beach community in LA (lower Alabama). Each book in the series stands alone.
More from Debra
I’m thrilled that Song of Sugar Sands earned recent acclaim by being named a Finalist in the 2020 Next Generation Indie Book Awards in the category “Christian Fiction.”
Although I’ve always been someone who seeks a higher power (and feels such a presence in my life), I’m also a person who struggles with doubts: doubts about churches, denominations, religion, and myself. So I decided to put a character with these kinds of doubts (Acadia) in a relationship with a man of such a deep faith he feels compelled to share his faith with everyone he encounters (Peter).
Song of Sugar Sands is a novel about—in the words of William Faulkner—the human heart in conflict with itself. Who hasn’t, at least occasionally, struggled with doubts about her faith in God or about God’s personal interest in her life? Also, relationships are difficult at their best, but particularly so when the individuals have differing views on faith. Still, there is hope. Song of Sugar Sands tells the journey of Acadia’s relationship with Peter and of her path toward deeper faith.
Inspiration for characters: My daughter, like Acadia, went to Pepperdine University. She met her husband, Jared, in California. Jared’s father and brother were both ministers, but Jared had no interest in this career path. I decided it would be more interesting to make Peter O’Neil the opposite—the first man of faith in his family, while Acadia struggles with her faith. In the novel, Beatrice Wood is a widow who befriends Acadia and helps her through a difficult time. Beatrice is based loosely on a friend of mine from church, who mourned the passing of her husband even as she became a strong business woman. The character Sybil was inspired by one of my former students.
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To celebrate her tour, Debra is giving away the grand prize package of a $20 Starbucks gift card and a signed 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.