About the Book
Author: Jennifer Sienes
Genre: Christian Contemporary
Release Date: April 28, 2020
Corey Schaffer, pastor’s wife and mother of two teens, has spent her entire marriage subconsciously repenting for one reckless night the week before her wedding.
Upon discovery of Corey’s indiscretion, her 17-year-old daughter, Taylor, is in a car accident resulting in a weeklong coma, traumatic brain injury and memory loss. Corey is riddled with guilt and would like nothing better than to confess all to her husband, Paul. But how can she when his pastoral position is at risk, thanks to their son’s thoughtless act of rebellion the year before—an act Paul has yet to forgive?
Instead, Corey loses herself in the day-to-day work of Taylor’s rehabilitation and prays God will give her the courage to face the past. But when a disgruntled church member sees an opportunity for revenge, Corey must find the faith and strength to put her family first, even if it means walking away.
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I hope I can do a review for this book that will let readers know how powerful this story is. The author holds nothing back as she digs deep into emotions that rip your heart out. How many of us are guilty of expecting more from our pastor and their family? We believe they should have their house in order and their children should be perfect. Oh how we must all get on our knees and ask God to forgive us for judging, gossiping, pointing fingers and acting holier than thou. Just so you know, pastors go through trials just like us. Their children may mess up, their marriage may not always be the best it can be, but we better make sure to check ourselves before we point at a family that God has called into ministry.
This story is very personal for me. My dad was a preacher and I grew up in a very strict household. Every time the church was open, we were there. We were the picture of happiness but behind closed doors, secrets and shame ran rampant in our home. This book opened up a few wounds fir me and allowed me for the first time to see my sin of bitterness.
We are introduced to Paul, his wife Corey and their children Michael and Taylor. In the first few pages we witness an accident that will unravel secrets that one person never thought would be found out. I cried through the majority of the story as I felt the pain this family went through.
The relationship between father and son is fractured and I think Paul was more concerned about what the church thought of Michael’s actions than actually finding out why Michael had become so rebellious. As a pastor he sees and counsels people every day. He speaks to them about forgives, but has he forgiven his son? I enjoyed reading how the author explores a father and son relationship and breaks it down to the bare bones where sin is exposed.
Corey is overwhelmed with being a pastor’s wife, raising a family and being a substitute teacher. The day Taylor has an accident she had just discovered something that shook her world. The anger she expressed to her mom was brought on by a secret that will change the family forever. The author does a great job of taking us through Taylor’s accident and showing us what it would be like to have a child who would need not only physical therapy but emotional therapy as well. Oh how I wanted to hug Corey and tell her that she needs to stop carrying around guilt that God has forgiven her for.
The family is torn apart and in walks the enemy to try to severe a marriage, destroy a family and shame a pastor. I couldn’t put the book down as I wanted to know why someone was so determined to try to remove Paul from the pulpit. The story is very realistic and shows how vengeful people can be when they become angry and feel rejected by a pastor. Perhaps we can understand how hard it can be at times when your family is put under a microscope with people waiting to find a blemish.
I think this book needs to be put in every church library. It should also be required reading for all leaders and new members of a church. Allow this story to teach lessons about forgiveness,trust, communication, family and unconditional love. Let the story remind us that we all sin. Instead of pointing fingers when someone sins, lets wrap our arms around them and pray with them. The book is a powerful look at a fractured family who must be vulnerable to allow God to heal them and set them free from past pain and anger.
“Whom the son sets free, is free indeed.”
I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion.
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 including several 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
Since I was twelve years old, I’ve been writing stories. I even wrote fan-fiction before it was a thing—a Happy Days episode, which I’m sure dates me. I took every creative writing class I could, starting in high school, and even declared journalism as my college major until I realized I like fiction a whole lot more than truth because I can create the characters any way I like.
However, my first attempts at writing emotionally charged novels fell flat; I hadn’t lived enough to truly understand what deep emotion felt like. Then life happened—a series of tragedies that made me feel I was more on par with Job than with Jesus. Someone wise told me that all writers must find the core of why they write—that deep part of us that God instilled in our hearts. What is it we, as writers, want to communicate to our readers? What I came away with was that we all need hope, especially in our darkest days.
Illusions was born out of a near-fatal car accident my daughter was in only weeks after her eighteenth birthday. It was walking through that accident with her that started the what if questions years later. What if an accident is the result of a mother/daughter argument? What if that argument was caused by something the mother did in her past—a deep, dark secret that even she cannot face? And what if that mother is held to a higher standard than most others? Say the wife of a pastor? And what if that pastor already has a black mark against him because of an act their other child (a boy) previously committed?
Would the congregation turn against him? We all know people in church who seek any opportunity to throw a wrench into things—that live with a big ol’ log in their eye, blinding them from the concept of grace.
To add to the tension (because, what’s the point of a story without it?), what ifthe accident caused a traumatic brain injury and the daughter remembers nothing? It may not be on par with Sophie’s Choice, but now a mother is torn between wanting her daughter to be whole again and hoping the deep, dark secret remains lost somewhere in the recesses of her mind.
Admittedly, the two children of Corey and Paul Schaffer (the main characters) are based loosely on my own children, Nicole and Christopher. It is so much easier to write what I can easily envision in my mind. And many of the challenges Taylor (the accident victim) faces were actually those my own daughter experienced. But that’s where truth and fiction part ways. So, Illusionsstarted with inspiration, but God took it to whole new level. It’s one of the ways He uses the challenges I’ve faced in life to connect with readers and hopefully give them His inspiration and encouragement.
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To celebrate her tour, Jennifer is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 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.