Not a Sparrow Falls (The Second Chances Collection Book #1)

Not a Sparrow Falls (The Second Chances Collection Book #1)

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by Linda Nichols

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In this powerful story of redemption and love, a prodigal young woman from the hills of Virginia flees the men who lured her away from a godly upbringing into a life of desperation. Taking on a new identity, Mary Bridget Washburn escapes to the quaint city of Alexandria, Virginia, where her path crosses that of a widowed minister with three young children and daunting


In this powerful story of redemption and love, a prodigal young woman from the hills of Virginia flees the men who lured her away from a godly upbringing into a life of desperation. Taking on a new identity, Mary Bridget Washburn escapes to the quaint city of Alexandria, Virginia, where her path crosses that of a widowed minister with three young children and daunting problems of his own. Can Mary Bridget and her tainted past stay hidden long enough for her to bring hope to a family falling apart?

Editorial Reviews

In this heart-tugging tale, Mary Bridget Washburn escapes her desperate and sinful past by fleeing to a bustling city. There, she crosses the path of Alasdair MacPherson, a widowed pastor who has grown distant from his three children. Their interaction and the crisis they must face together are the subjects of this subtle Christian novel.

Product Details

Baker Publishing Group
Publication date:
Second Chances Collection , #1
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2 MB

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The heavy feeling hit Bridie before she even opened her eyes. She pulled the covers up, wanting nothing more than to go back to sleep and not wake up again. In this morning's gray light her fantasies of happy endings seemed hopelessly childish. She gave a bitter little smile as she thought of the times she had almost poured out the truth to Alasdair over coffee and dessert. A fine mess that would have been. If he was ready to cut her loose because of Anna's diaries, what would he do if he knew the truth? What had she been thinking?

She rolled over and looked at the clock. It was time to get up if she was to perform her last duties for him and the children. She would go to the parsonage, get Samantha off to school, and spend these last two days with the children. And after that she would be unemployed again. She remembered that day, not so long ago, when she had made a wager with God. A job by the end of the day or she would go back to dealing.

She didn't bother to make a wager this time. She felt somehow that her fate had been decided long ago, maybe before she even existed. So this is how it happens, she realized as she showered and dressed, as she gathered up the few things she wanted to take with her and shoved them into her backpack. This is how a person ends up a loser. A bad break here, a poor choice there. Pile up a few months of those, a few years, and there you were. Out of luck, out of ideas, ready to do whatever it took to get by.

She counted out what was left of her money and put most of it into an envelope with a note for Carmen and left it on her dresser.

She walked quietly into the living room and peeked out the window. Newlee's patrol car was parked out front, but they weren't up yet. She looked around the little apartment one more time and the words she'd written to Carmen didn't seem enough now. She reached her hand into the pocket of her jacket to get the key to the apartment and came out with a slip of paper as well. The mysterious telephone number. After last night's drama she'd forgotten all about it. She went to the phone. One more time she dialed the number.


"This is Bridie Collins." Her pulse was loud in her ears. She swallowed, and her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth. "You've been trying to get ahold of me."

"Just a minute," the woman said. There was a rustling sound, and Bridie thought she heard a baby whimper. A door closed. "Yeah," the woman said. "I live with Eric. In Charlottesville."

Her stomach clenched. "Why are you calling me?"

"Somebody came looking for you, and Eric gave you up."

"Who was it?" Bridie asked, her voice calm, her insides a twisting mess.

"Tall, thin dude. Weird, whacked out on speed. He kept chewing his lip and picking at himself."

"What did Eric give him?"

"Everything he had. If I found you, he will, too."

"Thank you," Bridie said.

"We're even now," the woman answered and then hung up.

Bridie's hands shook as she replaced the telephone and turned on the computer. She almost screamed with impatience as she waited for it to boot up, then clicked on the heart for her favorite place and was immediately routed to the Virginia Department of Corrections Inmate Locator. She punched in the familiar name one last time: Porter, Jonah.

When the screen appeared, she stared, too frightened to move. Her breath came in shallow little gasps. Porter, Jonah. Status: Released. She leaned forward, reading it over and over, trying to think of what she should do. She clicked on the picture. There he was. The same angular face, the same raw features. His striking eyes were blank, vacant, like the soul inside had been gradually eaten away. He was out. And he knew where she was.

She had to leave. That much was clear now. She shouldn't even go to Alasdair's. She could be leading Jonah to them, and that could only be trouble. She paused, chewing her lip.


She jumped.

Carmen was standing in the doorway staring at her, giving her a strange look. "What's going on?"

Bridie didn't answer. She went back to the computer and turned it off. When she turned toward Carmen, her roommate was still staring at her. "What's up?" Carmen asked again, her voice a little more pointed.

"Nothing." She answered too quickly.

"What's with that?"


"That." Carmen gestured toward Bridie's backpack and gave her another intent stare. "And what's up with you? You're acting like you did that night we ate the espresso beans."

"Nothing's up with me," Bridie lied, trying to make her voice sound as natural as possible. "The backpack's because I'm spending the night at the parsonage. Alasdair's going on a trip."

Carmen stared at her, not smiling or nodding. "You sure you don't want to tell me?"

This wasn't good old live-and-let-live Carmen.

"Nothing to tell. I've got to go."

Carmen nodded, but she didn't pad off to the kitchen to make coffee as she usually did.

Bridie opened the apartment door, determined to get away before Newlee came out and started asking questions. She peered into the gray morning, but she couldn't do too much reconnaissance, or Carmen would get suspicious and wake up Newlee, and then she might as well just raise her hands and give herself up without a fuss. No one was around that she could see. She stepped out and closed the door behind her, but instead of going out the front she looped around the back of the building. It was raining, a light foggy mist. She cut through the alley and took the long way around the block, running to catch the bus one stop north of her usual.

She climbed on board and slid down in the seat, nothing moving but her eyes as she scanned Alexandria's sidewalks, slick but already full of people. He wasn't there. She didn't see him, at least.

Her breathing finally slowed, though her heart was still galloping. The bus passed the parsonage and the church. She stayed on, but halfway to the next stop her heart got the better of her good sense. She had to say good-bye. Otherwise Samantha would think she'd just up and left. She pulled the cord and got off, looking around to make sure no one was following before she doubled back.


Excerpted from:
Not a Sparrow Falls by Linda Nichols
Copyright © 2002, Linda Nichols
ISBN 0764227270, 0764227556, 0764227564
Published by Bethany House Publishers
Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.


Meet the Author

Linda Nichols, a graduate of the University of Washington, is an award-winning and bestselling novelist with a unique gift for touching readers' hearts with her stories. She and her family make their home in Tacoma, Washington.
Linda Nichols, a graduate of the University of Washington, is a novelist with a unique gift for touching readers' hearts with her stories. She is also the author of the acclaimed novels If I Gained the World and At the Scent of Water. She and her family make their home in Tacoma, Washington. Visit Linda's website at

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Not a Sparrow Falls 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 76 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow. What a story this novel tells. Linda Nichols is indeed a talented writer! I highly recommend this book...the plot is really captivating, and you can identify with certain aspects of the characters. I was hooked from the prologue. This is just a very entriguing story that you would enjoy reading! I would recommend this not only to adults, but also to fellow teenagers who enjoy reading deeper and slightly more mature novels.
lipto96 More than 1 year ago
The book starts out with a young girl named Mary Bridget who is stuck in a situation and can't figure out how to get out. So, she runs. She makes herself a new home in Alexandria, Virgina, but knows that her past is not far behind. As she creates a new life for herself, always looking over her shoulder is starting to wear on her. Yet she feels that she is needed right where she is at. Eventually, the past catches up with her and she has choices to make. Which fork in the road will she take this time? This book was very well written and filled with great reminders. Running and hiding is never the answer. And more importantly, no matter what is in our past, God still accepts us with open arms. I loved how the book did not beat around any corners or hide the message that it was presenting. God was evident throughout the entire book. I also loved how the stories all intertwined with each other. Beautiful story and great reminder of God's love.
khager23 More than 1 year ago
There are two main storylines here--Mary Bridget is on the run from her old life (she purchased supplies to make meth; she didn't actually make the meth herself--that was Jonah, her scary boyfriend) and eager to start over; she gives herself the name Bridie (after Bridget--her mom's name and her middle name). And Alisdair is at loose ends with his three children (teenage Samantha and twin toddlers Bonnie and Cameron) after his wife and their mother died two years ago, shortly after the twins' birth. He's a pastor and his church isn't happy with him because he's focusing more on his radio show than on leading the congregation. And the children are largely being neglected. This is Christian fiction (this novel was actually a Christy award finalist) and there is God talk. But it's also just a fantastic, heartwarming story. Bridie is a fantastic character and I fell in love with pretty much every character in here. (Except, of course for Jonah, the scary, meth-making ex-boyfriend.) I hope to read more of her books.
Sneezybee23 More than 1 year ago
A carefully planned escape allows Mary Bridget Washburn to leave behind the drug dealers that she lives with. In an attempt to start life anew, Mary takes on her mother's identity and becomes known as Bridie. When her plans seem to be going askew and she considers returning to the drug dealers. However, a child-care job neatly falls in her lap and she agrees to care for the children of a troubled Presbyterian reverend. She can not know the journey of healing that lays before her for both herself and the family she cares for. Still she is plagued by the thought of the drug dealers coming after her. However, it is only by the fear being realized that she can find true freedom. I enjoyed "Not a Sparrow Falls" by Linda Nichols. By the time I got a third of the way into the book, I was hooked. The book was well-written, though personally, I would have like to have seen a little more romance. I absolutely loved the ending though. The way in which the author wrapped things up and released Mary Bridget Washburn from the very fear she had been running from was absolutely superb. The title of this book is certainly appropriate. Nearly all of the main characters have "fallen" in some way, yet the theme is that God can lift up a broken life and bring restoration.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I started reading this 318 page book, I would have sworn it was an English or British novel. Then I thought it was set in the forties or fifties and I was wrong again. This book does have an old fashioned feel about it and the author's style reminds me of British works. This is not a romance exactly, nor a mystery. Its genre is a little hard to define. It is Christain story with a lot of heartbreak and love in it. I did enjoy this book. I think it is an excellant story. Although there is a 13 year old girl playing a major part, I do not think think this is a book for anyone younger then 16. There is child abuse, drug manufacturing and use, quite a few people die, but not from violence and a man and his faith are sorely tested. AD
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is very intresting the main character Mary goes on a emtional journey that takes her to a place she never expected being a meth addict she is trying to clear her name but it is moving to say the least when she finds herself again. The journey is worth reading this.
sdslangford More than 1 year ago
I recently received the book Not a Sparrow Falls by Linda Nichols from Bethany House to review. In the story, Mary learns 100 Bible verses as a little girl that she begins to clings to for hope. She unsuccessfully tries to keep her family together after her mother's death. Soon after her brother and sisters are taken, Mary finds herself in a life of crime because of one bad decision after another. She runs, trying to escape from danger and the life she desperately wants out of, and lands in the town of Alexandria, Virginia. Mary assumes her mother's identity for protection and finds peace in the sanctuary of an old church. Alasdair MacPherson's job and family seem to be crumbling. As pastor of the church, he has many responsibilities and never seems to be able to keep the congregation or his 3 sisters happy. His three children pay the cost as they are neglected by their distracted father. Samantha, his oldest daughter lays her written prayer, "Help me, God", down in the church. Mary sees the prayer and becomes involved trying to help Samantha. Mary uses the verses she learned as a child to help the children and their father heal. She is reminded of God's love and forgiveness and tells Samantha "It's running from things that gives them strength." Can Mary keep her past hidden and be able to help the family, or should she take her own advice and quit running? This story of forgiveness and redemption is one I recommend. I completely enjoyed reading this book and loved the characters. I would give it 5 out of 5 stars. Thank you to Bethany House for allowing me to review the book. All opinions expressed are my own.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Linda Nichols is an excellent, and very gifted writer, no doubt about that. The story was captivating, but the focus on the pastor's former wife was a little overwhelming. Her journal entries seemed to pull me down and not allow me to feel uplifted by the healing that was going on in the lives of the pastor's family and the nanny. A little on the depressing side, but very deep. It really makes you think and see how God can totally turn your life around by taking something heading toward disaster and turning into something good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Almost put this book down but I stuck it out a few more pages and was hooked!
Prolificreader More than 1 year ago
I don't come across many novels where the subject is not heavily covered in today's Christian market, but the author does it with such strength and ability to craft a memorable story. Not only was this story captivating, it left me with memorable characters and a story line that will resound with me for time to come. NOT A SPARROW FALLS is not a fast read. It requires a willingness to really delve into it, but once I entered the story world, I couldn't leave. The situations the heroine found herself in were heartbreaking and anxious. I loved the love story. It wasn't overt or edgy, but it was sweet and captivating. How I longed to see it resolved in the end. There were so many different threads that made up the tapestry of this story. From a family suffering from the loss of their mother, to a young woman running from a wealth of bad decisions, to a drug ravaged young man and the old woman who prays for them all. I would give this book five stars, but I am giving it four because there was a theology issue, I do not agree with, namely once save always saved. But aside from that, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It resounded and connected with me. I will not soon forget these characters or their story. I want to thank Jim at Bethany House for my copy of this book to review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book spoke to me on so many levels and I had a hard time putting it down. The way author Linda Nichols told Birdie's/Mary's story brought me in almost as if I was in it too. I was so happy that it ended happily. A lot of real-life stories like this do not end so happily. I look forward to reading more of the Second Chance Collection of books!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful, wonderful book. Don't pass this one up. Will be looking for more. Enriching characters that pull you in. This book makes the reader think about God. Not a bad thing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story is so good, I read it again. Then I had my wife read it. We sometimes need to just trust that God knows what He is doing, even if we don't.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written. Very entertaining. Held interest throughout.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don't even know where to begin with this review. The writing was excellent, both in grammar and style. The plot was so deep and layered that i found myself thinking about my own life in many instances. I love the faith side of it as well...she did an incredible job of incorporating that and really sending a message. She had me pondering my own spiritual life many times, and there were more than a few occasions where i related very deeply to a struggle one of the characters was going through. I cannot recommend this book enough and i will definitely read it again in the future.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written, good characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Strongly recommend this book of redemption and grace!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a wonderful book, i absolutely loved it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. I Look forward to the next book to see what happens with Bridgie and family.