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Song of the Brokenhearted

Song of the Brokenhearted

3.7 9
by Sheila Walsh (With), Cindy Martinusen Coloma (With), Kathryn Cushman

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Ava has a loving family, a beautiful house, and a solid faith. Suddenly, her ideal life will be completely broken . . . in the best of ways.

Ava’s life is full of great things. Her daughter is getting married to just the right guy, her husband’s company has kept them financially successful for years, her son is thriving as a high-school


Ava has a loving family, a beautiful house, and a solid faith. Suddenly, her ideal life will be completely broken . . . in the best of ways.

Ava’s life is full of great things. Her daughter is getting married to just the right guy, her husband’s company has kept them financially successful for years, her son is thriving as a high-school football player, and the ministry she started is keeping her busy as she reaches out to those with “broken hearts.”

Then it all falls apart. Ava’s safe world becomes unanchored, and she is forced to face the childhood she’s run away from her entire life. Just as she’s trying to sift through the pieces, the doorbell rings and Ava is confronted with the surprise of her life.

Ava must set out on a journey that takes her back home. Along the way, she encounters God in new and unexpected ways. She sees she's been hiding her brokenness behind good deeds and the comforts of a safe life. Learning what it means to lose it all is just the start of Ava’s journey—as is the new song God is writing on her heart.

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Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date:
maint to frontlist
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Product dimensions:
8.20(w) x 5.50(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt


By Sheila Walsh Cindy Martinusen Coloma

Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2012 Sheila Walsh and Cindy Martinusen Coloma
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4016-8692-5

Chapter One

"You need to Wake up," Ava told herself as she gripped the steering wheel between quick gulps of the coffee she'd grabbed at an all-night gas station.

She turned onto Walnut Street and the directions to the Gibson residence became unnecessary. Her destination was obvious by the cars parked at awkward angles around the two-story stucco house.

Tonight was not the night for casseroles, sympathy cards, or flowers. That would come tomorrow, and in the days that followed. This was the time to arrive empty-handed and with as few words as possible.

She rose from her car into a warm autumn night, pausing to watch gray puffs of clouds drift across the nearly full moon. The moment gave her the strength to go toward the front door and to become the helpful stranger in a house of deep grief.

A bouquet of silver balloons hung unmoving from the lamppost at the end of the walkway. Jars lit by candles lined the path to the house; most had already burned themselves out. A large banner hung over the front door: Congratulations, Joshua and Jessica!

Ava wondered if she should suggest taking down the reminder that hours earlier this had been a house of celebration and joy. Perhaps she could do it herself a little later.

An older man answered her knock wearing rumpled clothing and a deep frown drawn in the corners of his mouth.

"Are you a friend of the family?" he said, studying her in her designer jeans and beige sweater.

"No, I'm Ava. Hannah called and asked me to come."

His frown softened slightly. "Come in. We had the media stop by already. Sharks. I don't know how they heard so fast. Most of the family is in the formal living room. I'm their neighbor across the street there. I've known Jessica since she was nine ..." His voice trailed off.

"I'm sorry. It's very painful."

"It is," he muttered.

Ava followed the man beyond the foyer and sweeping staircase and toward a silent gathering of people who stood at different places around the room. A half-eaten cake rested on the table.

"Hannah? This lady said you called her."

The woman from her Bible study stared at Ava a moment, then recognition dawned on her face. She rose quickly from the chair.

"Ava. Thank you for coming."

"Of course," she said. As they embraced, Ava felt the woman lean heavily against her. For a moment, she feared Hannah would collapse.

"She was my only niece, and more like a daughter to me," Hannah said within the sobs that shook her. "Such a beautiful girl, and such a lovely heart. They were so happy ... How can they be gone, just like that?"

Ava offered no answers as she held the middle-aged woman while she cried. Ava felt the pain echo in her own heart. Though she often was around tragedies since starting the ministry at church, Ava had yet to become desensitized to the grief.

"I can't believe you came out this late at night," Hannah said, wiping the tears from her face. "I'd heard you talk about the Broken Hearts, but I had no idea ... Do you come out in the night like this all the time? Your husband must hate it."

"It's not just me. Our team takes turns being on call. But nighttime seems to be when most people need help," Ava said, picking up several of the tissues that Hannah dropped on the floor. "Is there anything specific you need right now?"

"I don't know." Hannah stared at her with a blank look as many did when Ava asked the question. Still, she asked instead of taking over—that, too, would come later.

"My sister is upstairs, but she wanted to be alone. Joe, my brother-in-law, was trying to drive to the ... the site."

"Oh no," Ava muttered. On the drive into Fort Worth, Ava had passed the remains of the wreck along a lonely stretch of highway. Red flares dotted the road, dividing drivers from the tragedy strewn in broken glass and bits of metal across the asphalt, off the shoulder, and into the darkened farmland. Ambulances were gone, and a tow truck was loading a mangled twist of metal that had once been the car of this newly engaged couple who believed their entire lives stretched before them.

Ava shuddered to think if it were Sienna and Preston. Her daughter and fiancé had celebrated their engagement over the summer. Nothing would comfort these parents tonight or for many nights to come. Such a loss was unfathomable, and Ava's heart felt a physical ache for this family who was planning a wedding several hours earlier, but now would begin planning two funerals.

"Seems someone stopped him from going. But I don't know where he is."

Ava placed her hand on Hannah's shoulder.

"Well, I'm available for whatever you need. The team has helped make funeral arrangements, we can organize food, and we've started memorial funds in some cases. We can do a little or a lot, just let me know what's needed."

The woman cried again. "Thank you. I can't believe we're talking about this. Their engagement announcement was just five hours ago. It doesn't seem possible that they're both ... gone."

"Hannah," a voice called.

Hannah hurried toward the entry and looked up the oak stairway.

"She's asking for you," a woman said, peering down from the top.

Hannah glanced at Ava as if asking permission.

"I'll be down here if you need me, or you can call me in the morning. Try to help her rest for now."

Hannah nodded and headed up the staircase with her jaw clenched and eyebrows rumpled.

Ava had an awkward moment of not knowing what to do with herself. Her eyes swept the rooms that veined off on both sides of the foyer. She moved quietly to pick up cups, plates, and half-empty champagne glasses left over from the engagement party. She found the kitchen still disheveled and set to work. It was obvious the people living here usually kept the house neat and tidy. Having the house clean might not be noticed tomorrow as shock slowly wore off, but a messy one would certainly add to the stress.

After cleaning as much as she could, Ava made coffee and set out mugs beside the cream and sugar on the long tile bar. A few people came in here and there, though none spoke to her. Some took cups of coffee with mumbled thank-yous.

As Ava swept the dining area, she saw a small face under the table staring up at her. She jumped in surprise, then bent down to meet the dark eyes staring back at her.

"Hello. What are you doing down there?" she said gently despite the racing in her chest. A child beneath a kitchen table— it touched a memory she'd tried to bury long ago. "Come here, sweetie. I won't hurt you."

The girl didn't move toward her, but she also didn't move away as Ava knelt on the floor and inched toward her.

"How long have you been there? Would you like something to drink or eat?"

The girl nodded. Ava reached for the little hands clenched around her knees. Finally she coaxed the child out.

The girl wrapped her arms around Ava's neck as she picked her up. Ava guessed she was about five years old, close to the age she'd been on a night when her childhood home had been the hub of a tragic gathering. No one had seen her hiding beneath a table as people talked about her mother's death.

"Oh no, I thought she was asleep," a woman said, flying toward the child. Ava handed her over, but the girl's dark eyes stared after Ava.

"Thank you," Hannah said, standing in the doorway with her hands hanging from her sides as if too heavy to do more than dangle there.

"I think she's thirsty or hungry," Ava said, scooping up the last of the dirt beside the table. She dumped it in the trash and returned the broom and dustpan to the pantry.

"Little Grace adored her Uncle Josh," Hannah said, sitting on a bar stool. She played with the rim of a coffee mug. "My sister isn't doing well."

Ava turned on the dishwasher and joined her at the bar.

"She won't for a long time. I'm sure none of you will. Would you like to pray?"

Hannah nodded. Ava took her hands and prayed quietly. When she finished, she opened her eyes to find Hannah gazing at her.

"Thank you for being here."

Ava paused after closing the front door. She stood on a patio chair and pulled down the banner over the door, then folded it up. She'd give it to Hannah at the right moment.

Chapter Two

The next morning, as Ava whipped eggs in a bowl for baked French toast casserole, she caught something amiss in the green of the backyard through the kitchen window.

It was a rare Sunday morning with all three of them at home. They'd attended the Saturday service at church, Dane hadn't bustled off to the office as he'd done most weekends in the past months, Ava had said no to helping with an afternoon fund-raiser, and Jason didn't have any friends or football buddies staying over for once.

The pleasure of waking past seven to a quiet house sent Ava to the kitchen, following the scent of freshly brewed coffee—brewed by timer as usual—with her thoughts flipping through her aunt's old book of recipes.

She'd left the Gibsons' house after two a.m. with the promise to return later today. But the family remained heavy in her thoughts after she arrived home and slid into bed. Perhaps Sienna's engagement made the tragedy more poignant—a reminder to cherish what they had.

Now, between the cinnamon and heavy cream, Ava paused from savoring the morning light to focus harder through the clear glass window over the sink. Out beyond the shimmer of the swimming pool among the manicured lawn and hedges, the wispy branches of the weeping willow tree seemed jaundiced and more sparse than usual.

The door to the mudroom opened, and Dane's slippers padded across the tile floor. He carried a coffee cup and held up a newspaper. "Look what I found. An actual Dallas Morning News made with ink and paper. When was the last time I read one of these on a Sunday morning?"

"I can't even remember. It's like listening to music on our record player. I didn't know they made newspapers anymore," Ava joked as she poured in the heavy cream and stirred the batter. The cinnamon swirled through the white liquid.

Dane gave an approving grunt at the ingredients stretched across the granite counter. "I'll cook the bacon. Let me know when." He moved behind her, bending to kiss her neck. It sent a shiver down her skin, reminding her of younger days when such a kiss would have meant that breakfast wouldn't be made. Dane topped off her coffee cup, then his.

"You came in late. What happened?" he said.

"A family lost their daughter. She and her fiancé had their engagement party last night, then they were both killed in a car accident."

"It's in the paper," Dane said, turning the front page toward her. The mangled car in the photo looked haunting, lit up against the dark night.

"That's fast—sharks indeed," Ava said.

"Be careful driving around so late. You should call me when you're on the road."

"All right," she said, not wanting to talk further about the night before. The little girl beneath the table and that congratulatory banner struck a little too close to home for her liking. "Where did you get a paper at this hour?"

"I stole it from the Lopez yard."

"No you didn't."

He gave her a mischievous grin. "I traded Jason out. He has to mow their lawn."

"He's going to love that."

"He will because I'll mow ours for him, and the Lopez yard is smaller." Dane settled into a chair in the breakfast nook. Ava bit back a smile at Dane's salt-and-pepper hair sticking up on one side. She loved him rumpled with bed head. Dane was always put together for business with his designer suits and ties, hair perfectly cut and smoothed in place. At home, Dane was Dane again.

"Seeing you like that makes me expect Sienna and Jason to come running in wearing their footed pajamas ... what did Sienna call them? Feet jammies."

Dane lowered the paper, watching Ava as she dipped the bread in the batter and layered it into a baking dish.

"Let's call her. We'll tell her to forget the wedding, forget college, and come be our baby girl again."

"It's not even six a.m. there. She'd kill us." Ava pictured her daughter sleeping with the covers all kicked off like she always did. They were planning Sienna's dream wedding, extravagant and luxurious, and Ava's binder of wedding plans over flowed with designs, schedules, and brochures. The months were moving too fast, like a locomotive barreling down a mountain picking up speed and gathering more and more weight.

Dane turned a page of the paper. "Not sure I'm loving this newspaper as much as I'd hoped."

"Missing technology already?"

"It's pretty nice to scroll through all my papers at once. And no ink on the fingers." He rubbed his fingers together.

Ava opened the lower oven and set the casserole dish inside. Then she tapped out a text to Sienna, hoping she didn't wake her but missing her daughter too much to keep the words in.

The only thing missing this morning is you, Ava typed and hit Send. She pictured those words traveling across the state of Texas, then New Mexico, Arizona, clipping the edge of Nevada, and up California to her daughter at Stanford University.

No one had wanted Sienna to attend Stanford—too far from home, too liberal, not Texas. It made Ava secretly proud that her daughter would venture into the unknown. But then, Ava's one year outside of Texas living with Aunt Jane had been much more than her own parents had done. Her entire life looked nothing like her parents', but Ava hoped her own daughter wouldn't feel the need to build a life wholly contradictory to the family she'd grown up in.

"I need to go in to the office today," Dane said, glancing up from the paper.

Ava's Sunday morning peace rattled like windows in an earthquake. Before she could respond, he continued.

"And ... could you hold off using the credit cards for the next week? I may switch them over to a line of credit or consolidate a few, and I want to make sure the balances on all of them are accurate." Dane kept his face in the paper, and Ava took a moment to consider his words. In all their years of marriage, Dane had never asked her to avoid using their credit cards.

"Everything okay?" she asked, keeping her voice casual.

"Of course. It'll be worked out soon. I know wedding and Christmas shopping is on the horizon—it's just a few weeks." He chuckled slightly, but Ava knew him well enough to know he was concerned about something.

She let it go. He'd talk when he was ready.

"Have you noticed the willow tree?" Ava asked, standing at the window with her coffee cup cradled in her hands.

"Yeah, I think it's dying." Dane turned another page.

"No, you think so?" Ava muttered as she swallowed back an ache at the back of her throat. She set her cup on the counter and headed outside. The gentle autumn morning met her with the scent of leaves, freshly cut grass, and swimming pool.

Ava padded in her slippers, weaving around patio furniture at the pool and down the path to the tall willow. She touched a long weeping strand of leaves, and several fell off into her hand.

"No," she whispered. This wasn't the normal changing of the seasons. Something was definitely wrong with the tree. A sudden wave of panic flooded over her as she gazed upward into the branches and cascade of leaves. She wanted to paste the leaves back onto the branches.

It doesn't matter that much, she tried chastising herself. Compared to the heartache and tragedies she witnessed every week, like the family last night, a tree was nothing. But this willow was important to her. It had been growing in their backyard for fifteen years, given to her by her brother as a gift when Jason was born. Clancy had dug it up from the land they'd grown up on. Her brother knew her attachment to the weeping willows, and Ava had cherished this tree all these years. Through the ups and downs of the past decade and a half, it was a reminder of how far she'd come, and she'd spent countless moments of prayer sitting on the bench Dane had built beneath its branches.

Years earlier, Ava had saved the willow tree from landscapers who wanted to pull it out because it interfered with the Mediterranean style. Their plans had a tall fountain drawn in its place. The pool guy complained about the leaves cast in the water with every summer breeze. But Ava would never risk it being moved, and she certainly would have never removed it.

"You must make it through this. You're my prayer tree," Ava whispered, looking up at its weave of branches that stretched toward the blue sky, then fanned into the shape of an umbrella dripping all the way back to the ground. She'd never asked her brother but wondered if Clancy had dug the tree from the stand by the riverside. As a young child, she'd hidden within the umbrella fan with her books and dolls. Ava hadn't told her family those stories. While most of her life was an open book, there were a few secrets to keep within a tree.


Excerpted from Song OF THE BROKENHEARTED by Sheila Walsh Cindy Martinusen Coloma Copyright © 2012 by Sheila Walsh and Cindy Martinusen Coloma. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. 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.

Meet the Author

Sheila Walsh is a powerful communicator, Bible teacher, and bestselling author with more than five million books sold. She is the author of the award-winning Gigi, God’s Little Princess series, Peace for Today, Loved Back to Life, The Storm Inside, Five Minutes with Jesus and The Longing in Me. She is cohost of Life Today with James and Betty Robison. Sheila lives in Dallas, Texas, with her husband, Barry, and son, Christian.

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Song of the Broken-Hearted 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
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Crystal-Sebastien More than 1 year ago
ava a christian who has a good life. But when her world slowly begins to go bad, Ava’s faith is tested and unresolved issues from her childhood begin to haunt her. it was good but not great
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
KCK_Blogger More than 1 year ago
This book is about Ava Kent. She lives a perfectly normal and blessed life. Ava is a mother of two. A daughter who is in college and is engaged to be married to a guy everybody loves, and a son in high school who is a star football player. Her husband has a thriving business that affords them to live handsomely in a good neighborhood. She kept a busy schedule leading a ministry that helps and comfort people who are suffering and broken hearted. All of a sudden things changed. Her husband is getting too busy at work, long hours and seems distracted. Her daughter called off the engagement, her son made a decision that could potentially ruin his future. Just when you are thinking what else could go wrong to this woman, she receives a gift on her doorsteps. Which would bring her back to her past. A life she has been trying to forget. A good book about forgiveness, about faith in God, hope, love and family. The last part of the book includes questions for book clubs to discuss and reflect on. I got this book free from "booksneeze" in exchange for an honest review.
sjziegler More than 1 year ago
When it rains, it pours and Ava Kent's seemingly perfect life starts to crumble. Her husband's company comes under investigation and he loses his job. Her son is kicked off the football team for failing a random drug test that throws his chance of college scholarships on the line. A daughter, in law school, decides to cancel her engagement, is on academic probation and wants to spend the summer traveling to developing countries. Ava spends most of her time volunteering for Broken Hearts, a non-profit organization through her church that helps families in crisis (e.g. a death). While her life is breaking down, Ava begins to wonder why she cannot help her family like she does with other families. She knows she put a brick wall around her heart and shields her family from the horrible childhood she went through. Ave becomes worried that her past is catching up with her. One day, the doorbell rings and changes Ava's life forever. I GIVE THIS BOOK: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars This is a very easy and tidy read. Sometimes I wonder if I grew up in a different generation than these authors or maybe they are trying to change behavior patterns because the parent's reactions to their kid's misdoings are lack. Maybe, through church, trust is easy to have. If my parents ever found out I smoked weed in high school (and I am pleading the 5th on that topic), they would have kicked my ass. I wish I were the daughter of Ava Kent. The weeping willow tree was the perfect analogy to Ava's life cycles. Not a lot was said about Ava's childhood but from what was written gives the reader the ability to imagine the worst. Too much of the book was dedicated to setting up the main characters and the story line. It was not until the last 75 pages did I really get interested in the book. And when Ava and Bethany spoke...tears. If you don't believe me, check it out for yourself! Until next time, take life one page at a time!
Kellie4 More than 1 year ago
Song of the Brokenhearted by Sheila Walsh and Cindy Coloma was a very good read. Since I have personally been dealing with a broken heart in many areas of my life I was looking forward to reading this book. It has helped me to read books that deal with brokenness during my times of trial as a way to keep the promises of the Lord close to my heart. Ava, appears to have it all together. She has a loving husband with a good job, a daughter about to get married, a son who she has a great relationship with, and an outreach she leads for those who have had a difficult time. Little does she know, she is the one who will need the most help. Ava is always the one encouraging others to pray and seek the Lord, but as her life starts to fall apart in different ways, she finds others leading her to the Lord through prayer and their grace towards her. The book flowed really well, and it was easy to read and get into the plot. I have read several other books by Sheila Walsh and have found them to have a similar flow. Thank you Booksneeze for the opportunity to read this book!
themiraclesnook More than 1 year ago
So I have just read a book called Song for the Brokenhearted it was written by Sheila Walsh and Cindy Martinusen Coloma. This is a book that addresses life and the need for forgiveness. I enjoyed this book but as I read this book I thought of that joke about playing a country song backwards the one where you get things back. I met Ava and her family. Ava’s life is busy and it full. Ava is a mother of two; the youngest is in high school. She is very active in a bible Study and has her own ministry called Broken Hearts where she and her group spread comfort in to others lives when tragedy happens. It was not long before she found that her husband Dane was having issues with his once lucrative business. Her teenage son Jason is being a teenager and it is difficult when he does what she thought he would never do and what it might cost him .Then there is the wedding she is helping her daughter Sienna plan it was going so well but how can Sienna do what she is doing? Then as things are happening and she is in need the most some of her friends , good friends question her it seems it can’t get worse , ah but then there is a surprise sends her back to her childhood home and she is forced to resolve things left unresolved. It is in this time she has to asked herself just how much faith do I have. Can I give forgiveness and she needs God more than ever. I found this book predictable but good. I give my three star rating. I did receive this complimentary copy of this book from Book Sneeze for my honest review. The opinions in my review are my own.
esosweet More than 1 year ago
Song of the Brokenhearted by Sheila Walsh and Cindy Martinusen Coloma is the story of living the faith when everything in life seems to fall apart. Ava in her late forties is married to a wonderful man and has two wonderful children. Her daughter is getting married to a great guy. Her son is a fantastic football player. Her husband has a strong profitable company. As Ava’s world starts to crumble she has to determine if her faith is a fair-weather faith or the kind that will stand through fear and uncertainty. Meanwhile Ava is having her ministry work and personal life questioned by a “friend” from church. She also has a troubled past that she hasn’t quite reconciled with her life as a suburban housewife. Will Ava lose her faith? Will she get angry at those who question her life? Will she face her past? Maybe, but you will have to read it to find out. I really like this book by Walsh and Matinusen Coloma. It was intriguing and interesting in the way that the book was written. The authors draw out Ava’s past and cause you to really wonder what it is that has her so haunted. I really like the way that Ava deals with all that happens to her personally her faith is really explored along with what it really means. Her relationship with her best friend, Kayanne, was wonderful to me as it reminded me of my relationships with some of my besties. Overall this book was a good read. I started it Friday night and was finished by Saturday afternoon. At 304 pages its not a quick read, but it definitely drew me into the story. I will say that had it not taken so long to find out what was so rough in Ava’s past, I probably wouldn’t have been so interested. Overall though, I really do recommend this book next time you are looking for a novel to read. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
GardeningGal More than 1 year ago
Song of the Brokenhearted by Sheila Walsh and Cindy Martinusen Coloma is an entertaining read, but a bit predictable and uninspiring. As the reader, it didn’t bring out the emotion in me that I had hoped for. I felt a bit unmoved and unchallenged. The storyline addresses the question of how do we trust God when unpredictable things happen in our seemingly perfect life. Ava and her family encounter money troubles, a called off wedding, and a disappointing choice by a high school age son. The problem with the book is that I feel the ups and downs that Ava and her family encounter are kind of watered down. The reaction of the parents when their son fails a drug test did not seem authentic to me. My family has personally faced some dramatic challenges. As a woman of faith, I have had moments of questioning God, asking for strength during times of brokenness; desperately looking for God to lean on Him during the turmoil. This novel did not tap into those feelings and God’s promise of “I will not leave you or forsake you”. I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
PetLover1924 More than 1 year ago
Ava and her husband Dane have had a perfect live together. Ava volunteers at the church to help those in need of comfort, and Dane is a successful businessman. They have two kids one is getting married and the other is in high school playing football. Now the family's life falls apart. God has written the song of her journey-called the song of the brokenhearted. Ava relives her childhood life in a new lens then the doorbell rings and she gets the surprise of her life. During Ava's journey to the place she grew up, she encounters God in a new and unexpected way. Will Ava and Dane's life turn around? I was smiling through most of Song of the Brokenhearts; for example, there was a moment when Dane would just stare at his computer and Ava would be talking to him and would feel like she was talking to herself. The reason why it made me smile is because my dad is just like Dane and my mom is just like Ava. One of the parts that I loved was Ava wanting to save her tree that was dying that she had planted when Jason was born. Not only did I love the fact that she wanted to save this dying tree from some something mysterious, but also because that was her praying tree. All her prayers are contained in the leaves, roots, and branches. Miracles have happened with the help of this one tree. I recommend this book to anyone who has or has not read Sweet Sanctuary by Sheila Walsh and Cindy Martinusen Coloma because it was as good as Sweet Sanctuary. This novel is hard to put down. I also think it is a great read to pass along to a friend, or family member. I received this novel from Booksneeze.