The Heart of Memory

( 38 )

Overview

When beloved Christian writer and speaker Savannah Trover becomes gravely ill, she has to face the sham that her faith has become. Days before her heart transplant, she vows to change her ways and she renews her relationship with Christ. But when she awakens from the surgery, Savannah discovers that her faith has left her completely.

Savannah’s husband, Shaun, is concerned about his wife's odd behavior—and even more concerned about the secret he’s keeping from her. If she ...

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The Heart of Memory: A Novel

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Overview

When beloved Christian writer and speaker Savannah Trover becomes gravely ill, she has to face the sham that her faith has become. Days before her heart transplant, she vows to change her ways and she renews her relationship with Christ. But when she awakens from the surgery, Savannah discovers that her faith has left her completely.

Savannah’s husband, Shaun, is concerned about his wife's odd behavior—and even more concerned about the secret he’s keeping from her. If she doesn't bring down their ministry, then he might, losing his family in the process.

A stranger may hold the answer to Savannah's recovery, but is Savannah strong enough to return to her old way of life? Can Shaun right his wrongs before word gets out? And do either one of them remember how to be who they once were—or who they want to be?

In this latest relational drama from Alison Strobel, readers will explore the difference between emotional faith and life-giving truth as Savannah wonders if she can ever trust her heart again.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780310289470
  • Publisher: Zondervan
  • Publication date: 4/1/2011
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Alison Strobel writes novels that explore life, love and faith. She lives in Colorado with her husband and two daughters. Visit her at www.AlisonStrobel.com
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First Chapter

The Heart of Memory

A novel
By Alison Strobel

Zondervan

Copyright © 2011 Alison Strobel Morrow
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-310-28947-0


Chapter One

Knowing there was always someone watching her at these conferences, Savannah Trover kept her mouth moving as the crowd sang along with the worship band. She wasn't on stage yet, but sitting on deck with the other speakers made her nearly as visible. She was just glad no one had heard when her voice had given out with a squeak on the last verse, and hopefully no one around her noticed she wasn't actually singing anymore.

Lousy timing, God she prayed as she took a casual glance to the door behind her. Where was Marisa? Savannah went on in ten minutes and wouldn't have a voice to teach with if she didn't get some Ricola and water soon.

The song ended and a new one began, admonishing her to trust in the Lord. Shame on me. Thanks for the reminder. She straightened her shoulders and mouthed the words to save her voice while she tried not to panic that she'd bomb when she took the stage.

A hand on her arm startled her from her thoughts. Marisa held out a bottle of water and an unwrapped lozenge. "Sorry it took so long," she whispered. Savannah smiled and waved away the apology as she took the lozenge. Marisa always knew exactly what she needed. Savannah wished the ministry could afford to give her a raise; she certainly deserved one.

Marisa pulled Savannah's phone from her pocket and handed it to her. "Shaun texted three times while I was in the dressing room. I figured it must be important if he was trying to reach you when he knows you're teaching this morning."

Savannah drained half the water, then popped the lozenge and took the phone.

Leather bound exec checkbook — can't find it.

Know where it is?

She frowned.

Didn't know we had one. Sorry.

She handed it back to Marisa with a shrug. "I don't even know what he's talking about."

Marisa pulled a small bag from her purse. "I've got one dose each of zinc, Echinacea, vitamins C and D, and garlic. Want any of them?"

Savannah glanced at her water, then held out her hand. "I'll take them all. Might as well." She chewed down the Ricola, then swallowed the handful of capsules. The band reached the final chorus, and she quickly reapplied the lipstick Marisa offered her, then closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Adrenaline was kicking in, soothing the dull ache behind her eyes and chasing away the feeling of uneasiness that came with knowing her immune system was being hacked.

The song ended, and a moment later the lights dimmed and the opening video illuminated the screen behind the stage. Savannah closed her eyes again, centering herself and spending one last minute in prayer. Just get me through the day, Lord. Keep my voice and body strong. I don't care if I'm sick for the rest of the month, just keep me healthy today.

She stood and straightened the ruby red jacket of her pantsuit before climbing the stairs to the stage. The video ended, the audience burst into applause, and the lights came up, activating the performer in her. "Thank you, ladies," she called out, waving and basking in the heat of the lights and the attention of five thousand women hanging on her every word, "and welcome to the last day of this summer's Women of the Word conference."

More applause, and her impending cold was forgotten. For the next forty minutes, Savannah was home.

Shaun Trover ran a hand through his hair and stared hard at the floor. "Think," he muttered. "Come on, think." He walked back to his den and pulled open the bottom drawer of his desk, the spot where the checkbook should be and where he had already looked three times. Still empty. Of course it is. Come on, think.

He sat down and scrolled through his online calendar, looking for something that might remind him of the last check he'd written. And there it was. He closed his eyes, walking step by step through that afternoon. The phone rang, just as I pulled it out of the drawer. The sudden memory made him smile — finally, some hope. I remember taking that message on the kitchen counter —

He'd brought the checkbook with him as he left the office to track down the cordless that was not on its base on his desk. He went back to the kitchen to look again.

"Hey, Dad." Jessie jerked open the fridge.

Shaun jumped. "I thought you were at work."

She smiled as she opened the orange juice. "I don't leave for another five. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to scare you."

"It's alright. Hey — you haven't seen a big leather binder, have you? About this big." He held out his hands, indicating the size as he scanned the room again.

When Jessie nodded, relief was followed quickly by fear. She wouldn't open it, would she?

"You have?"

"Yeah, I think so. It was here on the phone desk last week, on Mom's study Bible. I put them both in her office."

Shaun bounded upstairs. "Left-hand side of the credenza," Jessie called after him. Shaun let out a shaky breath as he pulled out the binder from beneath the tattered Bible. He'd have to be more careful. This couldn't happen again.

"Sorry about that," Jessie said when he returned. "Is that for A&A? I thought you guys had an accountant now."

"We do. But this isn't for A&A; it's for our personal account. I just don't like those smaller checkbooks — too easy to lose." They laughed at the irony and Shaun took the binder back to his office, locking it in its proper place before rejoining Jessie in the kitchen. "So Mom comes back tomorrow. I was thinking we could do a family dinner; you could bring Adam."

Jessie's face went dark. "No, thanks. Adam and I already have plans."

"Come on, Jess. It's your mother. She's been gone for three weeks."

"It's not that different from when she's here. I don't see what the big deal is."

Shaun offered a fatherly look, but Jessie returned it with a stony stare. He tried a different approach. "Maybe you two should do something together before classes start up. Take a road trip to Estes Park, maybe."

Jessie let out a flat laugh. "We wouldn't have enough to talk about to fill a fifteen-minute coffee break, much less a whole day. No, thanks." She shifted on her feet and raised her eyes to Shaun's. "But speaking of school, would you drive up with me when I move back and help me cart my stuff to my dorm room? It'll go so much faster with two of us, and Adam and I are helping to throw the freshman dinner that night. It would be great to have it done before that."

"Of course, Jess. As long as Mom doesn't need —"

"Oh, right, unless Mom needs something." She spun around and grabbed her keys from the counter. "I forgot she's the center of the universe."

Shaun winced when the door slammed shut. He should have known better than to try to throw them together like that. He just kept hoping things would change. Not that they can when Savannah's never here. He shook his head and went back to his office, then groaned when he remembered why he'd been racing around the house in a panic ten minutes ago. He pulled out the checkbook binder and removed a smaller checkbook from the back, then opened his email, his gut clenching as he scanned the inbox for the letter. His hand shook as he wrote the check, and by the time the envelope was addressed his handwriting was chicken scratch. He pushed a stamp onto the corner and walked to the kitchen for his keys, then grabbed the shopping list from the counter. He'd go grocery shopping after stopping at the post office. At least he and Savannah would have a nice dinner.

Jessie rolled the windows down and cranked up the stereo. She sang along with the Brad Paisley tune, loudly and off key as usual, to try to cleanse her mind of the conversation with Shaun. When was her father ever going to learn?

At least school was starting soon. She missed seeing Adam every day, and having her friends around all the time. She'd miss seeing her dad so much, but at least they could meet for coffee halfway between A&A and campus now and then. She preferred that to being home and having to put up with Savannah's paradoxical attention. How someone could appear to not care at all about what Jessie did while simultaneously criticizing every move she made was beyond her psych 101 education.

Jessie pounded a fist lightly on the steering wheel as guilt nagged her. She had a mother — that was more than a lot of people had. And, though annoying, her mother was relatively healthy on all levels — didn't abuse or neglect her, was successful, and provided for her family. Jessie wished they could just get along.

She pulled into the parking lot of the strip mall and took a spot in the back row. After affixing her name tag to her shirt and brushing her wind-tangled hair, she took a deep breath and prayed her pre-work prayer. Make me gracious and squelch my bias, God.

The bell above the door chimed as she entered the bookstore. She waved to her manager, Torrie, who was working the register, and walked back to the offices to stash her wallet and keys before taking her place on the floor. A cart of new arrivals stood outside the stockroom; she wheeled it to the fiction section and read the back of each one before placing them on the shelves. She loved that she had a job that required her to read. Fiction was her specialty, though her growing interest in child development had her perusing the parenting section these days as well. She'd thought about trying to write a book, even had some decent ideas, but she worried everyone would compare her to Savannah or think she was trying to ride her mother's Sak's Fifth Avenue coattails. That was the absolute last thing she'd ever want anyone to think about her.

"Hey, Jess — oh good, you've got the cart." Torrie appeared at her side and slouched against the bookshelf. "There's a couple boxes of returns in the stockroom, too."

"Okay, I'll do those next."

"Do you know your schedule yet for next term? I'm going to start working out the shifts for the fall this week."

"Oh, yeah, I'll bring that tomorrow. I should be able to keep the same number of hours, though."

"Good. Between you and Dagne we should be set then, assuming your availability doesn't overlap too much." Torrie pulled a book from the cart and read the back, then handed it to Jessie. "Did you see the numbers for last month's sales? Your mom's book went through the roof after her conference in Denver."

"Oh, really?" Jessie clenched her teeth briefly as she pushed a book on the shelf. "Well, that's good."

"She's such an inspiration. My parents aren't believers, so I didn't have much of a role model when I became a Christian." Torrie sighed, looking wistful. "You're so lucky."

Live in my head for a day and see if you don't change your mind. "Yeah, she's really ... helped a lot of people."

"Is she back from the tour yet?"

"Tomorrow night."

"Know if she has any other books in the works?"

Jessie swallowed back a snarky comment. "I don't know. I haven't talked to her much this summer; she's been gone so much."

"Ah, true. Probably no time to write when she's touring. Well, I hope she comes out with something soon — she's great for business." Torrie grinned, then pushed away from the bookshelf. "Gonna go work on the books. You've got the register."

"Okay." She watched Torrie disappear into the office and let out a deep breath. Nothing made her want to vent more than hearing other people paint her mother as some kind of hero. She could just hear people thinking, "And what are you going to do with your life?" Everyone's expectations were so high — including Savannah's. Jessie dreaded the day when they all realized she would never live up to them.

She finished stocking the books and began straightening the shelves. The front door chimed and she peeked around the bookshelf to greet the customer. "Welcome to Grace Notes," she said. "Can I help you find anything?"

The young woman pushed her sunglasses up and held out a sticky note. "Um, yeah. I'm looking for this book — A Jewel of a Woman by Savannah Trover. I caught the title at the end of a radio show, but didn't get to hear much about it. Would you recommend it?"

Jessie turned on her saleswoman smile and tried not to feel like a hypocrite. "Oh, definitely. Follow me. Savannah's books are over here." She led the woman to Savannah's section of the Christian Living shelves, smile frozen to her face, her insides smoldering. She rattled off her sales pitch for the book, then left the customer to skim it on her own. A few minutes later she closed the sale, then went back to work on the cart of books. She may not be thrilled with the author, but she had to admit, the lady sure could sell books.

Savannah took advantage of the audience's laughter to take a sip from the water bottle that sat beside her Bible on the small podium. She could feel her immune system breaking down, in spite of the adrenaline. Three doses of various supplements over the course of the day had done nothing but push off the inevitable, and now, as she faced the last few minutes of her final talk, she knew she would just barely finish in time to keep a smile on her face as she spoke.

"So tomorrow, when you get ready to start your day, look in the mirror and see the whole you. Not just a single woman. Not just a wife. Not just a mom. Not just a ... whatever it is you use to label yourself. See the woman God put here for this time in history. See the change agent whose community is waiting for her to step up and reach out. See the image of God that the Lord wants to use to shine his light and love into this dark, tumultuous world. You are more. And together, we are more. More than the lies, more than the pain, more than the fear and the busyness and the complacency that Satan uses to oppress those who don't know the Father. Don't listen to the voices that tell you you are less. Grab the day by the neck and don't let it go until you've wrung out of it every last opportunity to change this world for the better, in the name of Jesus."

The worship band began to play behind her, and she picked up her Bible and water from the table as the singers broke into the first song of the final worship set. Savannah walked down to her seat and released a deep breath as Marisa held out another handful of vitamin C capsules. "You made it."

"Just barely." She swallowed the pills with the last of her water. The music lulled her; she closed her eyes and let her body relax. Her head began to hurt as her adrenaline drained away, and she could feel her muscles and joints stating to ache.

The final worship set lasted for fifteen minutes. When the lights came up and the applause began, Savannah forced her heavy eyelids open and stood with the other presenters. They walked down the aisle and back to their dressing room, where all but Savannah began to chat about the evening's wrap-up dinner. Savannah sank onto the sofa and closed her eyes again. "Marisa, what time is our flight tomorrow?"

"Not until ten-thirty. But I'm going to try changing it to tonight. I'm worried about you being too sick tomorrow to fly."

"Wise woman." She pried her eyes open and hoisted herself from the couch to pack her things. Marisa called the airline, and Savannah eavesdropped until it was clear she had secured a new flight.

Marisa hung up a few minutes later. "We're booked for an 8:35."

Savannah glanced at the clock. "We'd better hustle then."

"Right — you ready to go?"

Savannah looked around the room for stray items. "I think so."

She hugged each of the other presenters she'd traveled with for most of the last three months, sad to miss out on the celebration dinner, and then left with Marisa for the hotel to pack.

Savannah felt like she was moving in slow motion as she folded pajamas and reclaimed her personal items from the nightstand. "I just know I'm going to forget something."

"That's why I'm here, silly." Marisa chuckled. "I know we're good friends and all, but this is my job, remember? So don't worry; I've got your back."

Savannah flashed her a weary smile. "Thanks, girl." Savannah zipped her bag closed and lay back on the bed. "When do we leave for the airport?"

"About half an hour."

"I can't wait to be on the plane so I can sleep."

(Continues...)



Excerpted from The Heart of Memory by Alison Strobel Copyright © 2011 by Alison Strobel Morrow . Excerpted by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 38 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 39 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2011

    An Emotional Ride- But a Good One

    An emotional roller-coaster ride! That is the easiest way to describe "The Heart of Memory". The entire book was a ride through emotional highs and lows.I was intrigued as I read this book and it grew as the plot developed. The book held my attention quite well, especially since the story was based mainly on what was happening within each of the characters. The story walks through the faith journey of Savannah primarily, but includes the struggles of her husband and daughter. The book had several surprising turns in the plot and several times I was quite shocked at the actions of Savannah (though given her circumstances they made sense.)The book covered a lot of tough issues. Faith struggles, financial problems that are quickly falling apart, relationships, trust, throw in a heart transplant with miles of baggage and there are layers of tension riveting their way through the story. I thought the ending was great closure for the book. With so much going on through the story, not every single thread was 100% sealed, but the closure of the story worked the best for the characters and their growth. I was satisfied.I thought "The Heart of Memory" was a good story filled with many elements, but underlying messages that readers will easily relate to.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2011

    Loved it!

    Alison Strobel is real. Her novels aren't typical Christian fiction that are predictable from start to finish. I couldn't put it down once I picked it up!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2012

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  • Posted June 1, 2011

    Good read

    This book was a good read, but had a weak ending! Can't really complain as the book was a free download. It would have been nice to have a more complete ending and a final resolve.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 3, 2011

    Loved it.

    Contrary to what a previous rating said, this is an awesome novel. While the characters can be predictable at times, it still has a good storyline. I would recomend this book to anyone who likes a goodChristian fiction novel.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 1, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    One of the best books of the year!

    The Heart of Memory will linger in your memory long after you turn the last page. Alison Strobel plumbs the depths of lost faith and the loss of self in this amazing book. She exposes things about transplant recipients and cellular memory that were spellbinding. I couldn't put it down. Novel Journey and I highly recommend it. It's a 5-star read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2011

    AWFUL!

    I like Christian themes but this is too heavy. After about 6 chapters I gave up. The characters were plastic and unbelievable and the thought of a person in a Christian ministry that is guilty of embezzlement is disgusting!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 18, 2011

    An Emotional Ride- But a Good One

    An emotional roller-coaster ride! That is the easiest way to describe "The Heart of Memory". The entire book was a ride through emotional highs and lows.

    I was intrigued as I read this book and it grew as the plot developed. The book held my attention quite well, especially since the story was based mainly on what was happening within each of the characters. The story walks through the faith journey of Savannah primarily, but includes the struggles of her husband and daughter. The book had several surprising turns in the plot and several times I was quite shocked at the actions of Savannah (though given her circumstances they made sense.)

    The book covered a lot of tough issues. Faith struggles, financial problems that are quickly falling apart, relationships, trust, throw in a heart transplant with miles of baggage and there are layers of tension riveting their way through the story.

    I thought the ending was great closure for the book. With so much going on through the story, not every single thread was 100% sealed, but the closure of the story worked the best for the characters and their growth. I was satisfied.

    I thought "The Heart of Memory" was a good story filled with many elements, but underlying messages that readers will easily relate to.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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    Posted April 21, 2011

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