coupled with a well-plotted story, makes for an absolutely winning combination.”
Who Is My Shelter? (Yada Yada House of Hope Series #4)by Neta Jackson
Every woman needs a safe shelter.
The tables have turned and Gabby's estranged husbandwho threw her out when she didn't live up to his image of a "corporate wife"needs her in a way neither ever expected. He's begging for reconciliation,
but Gabby has moved on, finding purpose and a future in the House of Hope. Not only has she found shelter
Every woman needs a safe shelter.
The tables have turned and Gabby's estranged husbandwho threw her out when she didn't live up to his image of a "corporate wife"needs her in a way neither ever expected. He's begging for reconciliation,
but Gabby has moved on, finding purpose and a future in the House of Hope. Not only has she found shelter for herself and her sons there,
but she's able to help provide shelter for homeless moms and their kids.
And yet . . . there's a hole in her life. Is God leading Gabby down a new path and giving her somethingand someonenew? Or is He redeeming what she thought was gone forever?
coupled with a well-plotted story, makes for an absolutely winning combination.”
Read an Excerpt
who is my shelter?A Novel
By NETA JACKSON
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2011 Neta Jackson
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Good Shepherd painted on the wall of the Manna House Women's Shelter seemed to hover over the crowd in the multipurpose room, as if the babble of street talk, Jamaican patois, and bits of Spanish swirling around me was an extension of the motley herd of sheep in the mural itself.
Standing in front of the mural holding a plastic cup of red, watery punch, I savored the unusual painting once more. The pictures of the biblical Good Shepherd I'd seen as a kid always had a flock of clean, white, woolly sheep looking up at the shepherd adoringly. But the sheep on the wall were all different shades of white, black, brown, and tan, some with scraggly, dirty wool, some scrawny and hungry looking, others with bloody or bandaged wounds. But the thing about the mural that never failed to grab me was the Shepherd's face as He coaxed the bedraggled sheep into the pen where they would be safe and warm.
A look of sheer love.
I dabbed at my eyes with a wadded-up tissue. How I wished my mother—Martha Shepherd—could see this beautiful mural and be here for the dedication of the room that had been named after her: Shepherd's Fold.
"Gabby Fairbanks! You blubbering again, girl? Here." Precious McGill, on-again, off-again resident of Manna House, took the plastic cup out of my hand and replaced it with a mug of steaming coffee. "You need somethin' stronger than Hawaiian Punch to prop you up today. I know, I know, we all feelin' sad that Gramma Shep be gone. But it's all good. It's all good."
I took a swallow of the hot liquid. "Mmm. Good coffee. And just enough cream. Thanks."
The thirty-year-old single mom—soon to become a grandmother herself—craned her neck, checking out the crowd. "So where's this famous artist we s'posed to meet today? Ain't he gonna show up for the dedication? I thought that's what today was all about."
I took the arm of my friend and turned away from the mural. "I'm sure he'll be here. And he's not famous yet—he's still an art student at Columbia College. I don't see his parents or the Baxters yet, so I imagine they're all still on the way." Now it was my turn to case the room. "But I don't see Lucy either. She better show up. This whole dedication thing was her idea."
Precious snorted. "Yeah, but you know Lucy. Never can tell when she gonna show up—or not. Uh-oh, gotta go. Estelle's givin' me the Evil Eye 'cause I abandoned my post. Ya gonna take your boys to the Lock-In tonight up at SouledOut? Sabrina wants to go—which I think is crazy, her bein' six months pregnant an' all." Without waiting for an answer, Precious scooted through the crowd and a moment later I saw her head full of wiry twists pop up behind the snack table where Estelle Williams, the shelter's cook, was busy setting out hot wings and fresh veggies.
I groaned to myself. Why did the church schedule a youth group Lock-In the same day as the dedication here at Manna House? Josh Baxter was involved in both—a volunteer here at the shelter as well as one of the youth leaders at SouledOut Community Church. So what if he was only twenty-something. He should know better.
Guess I'm showing my age. All-nighters of any variety were definitely a thing of my past.
But the Lock-In had put a crunch on other things as well. I still needed to take my boys to see their dad in the hospital this afternoon—but there wouldn't be a lot of time after the Shepherd's Fold dedication if P.J. and Paul had to be at the church by six o'clock. And, darn it, I'd been hoping to have a potluck or something this weekend to celebrate our first week at the House of Hope, our experiment in "second-stage housing" for homeless single moms—moms like Precious McGill and her daughter, Sabrina, who'd moved in a week ago across the hall from me.
But that was a wash now. Not with the Lock-In tonight, which took out my boys and Sabrina. Not to mention Josh and his wife, Edesa, too. The young couple had moved into the House of Hope last week after Josh had agreed to be the property manager for the six-flat. Josh and Edesa definitely needed to be at any "festivity" we had to celebrate this new beginning.
A commotion at the double doors leading into the large multipurpose room shook me out of my thoughts. Oh, Gabby, quit complaining, I told myself, seeing Josh's parents and their friends, the Hickmans, arriving with a young man I presumed was our guest of honor. As usual when I got an idea—like this potluck, which I was already envisioning as a once-a-month get together for the residents and staff of the new House of Hope—I wanted it to happen now. But who said the potluck had to happen on the first weekend of the month? Having another week to plan wouldn't hurt either.
Huh. God seemed to think patience was a virtue I still needed to practice. On a daily basis, no less.
Making my way to the knot of people greeting each other by the double doors, I hesitated, suddenly feeling shy. What in the world was I going to say to the young man who'd painted the awesome Good Shepherd mural? I didn't have words.
I recognized his mother, Florida Hickman, one of the Yada Yada Prayer Group sisters, and I'd seen her husband, Carl, a couple of times. The story was, their son Chris had been a teenage "tagger," illegally decorating garage doors and El underpasses with his cans of spray paint. Until somebody recognized that the kid had real talent—
"Gabby Fairbanks!" hissed a familiar voice in my ear. "Where've you been? I want you to meet Chris!" Jodi Baxter—Josh's mother and one of my best friends—grabbed my arm and dragged me right into the middle of the group of people clustered around the young artist. "Chris, this is Mrs. Fairbanks, the program director here at Manna House. She's—"
"I know. Gramma Shep was her mama." The young black man's soft voice surprised me, and I was completely dazzled by his beautiful grin. He shook my hand, a nice, firm grip. "My pleasure, Miz Fairbanks. Saw you across the room and knew who you were." He pointed to my hair and grinned even wider. "The Orphan Annie hair, like the movie, know what I'm sayin'?"
I had to laugh. "I know. Dead giveaway." I took a deep breath. "I'm so happy to finally meet you, Chris. I've been wanting to thank you. The mural—" Darn it if those rogue tears didn't come rushing to the surface and I had to fish for another tissue. "Um, sorry. It's just that the mural is ... is ... so meaningful. So perfect for Manna House and the lost sheep who come here." Uhh, that sounded lame. I could feel the tips of my ears turning red. "Oh! Here are my boys."
Jodi had managed to pry my young teenagers away from the hot wings at the snack table and was herding them toward us. "P.J., Paul, this is Chris Hickman, the artist who painted the mural over there."
P.J. nodded in greeting and awkwardly bumped fists with the older teenager. But Paul's eyes widened in twelve-year-old awe. "You did that? Man, I thought you'd be a lot—you know—older."
Chris started to say something when we were interrupted by Estelle banging on the bottom of a pot, followed by the voice of Mabel Turner, the director of Manna House. "Everyone, please find a seat and let's get started. We have a short program of dedication for the naming of our multipurpose room, and we also want to introduce the young artist who ..."
Mabel continued her introductions as the crowd—current residents of the shelter, members of the board of directors, volunteers, staff, and "friends of the shelter"—obediently began finding seats in the rows of folding chairs facing the mural. Leading Chris toward the front row, I whispered, "Thanks again, Chris. I only wish my mom could see it."
"Yeah, me too," he whispered back. "Wish I could've met her. Whole time I was paintin' that mural, folks here at Manna House came by wantin' to tell me stories about Gramma Shep. She must've been quite a lady."
That made me smile. "Actually," I murmured as we found seats, "she was just an ordinary woman with ordinary gifts. But that was her strength. She didn't see herself as anything special, which made everyone feel comfortable around her. She loved people and treated everyone like her best friend."
Everyone, I mused, as Mabel opened the dedication service with a prayer—even Lucy Tucker, the seventy-something "bag lady" who'd been my introduction to Manna House six months ago. My mom and Lucy had bonded in a strange, sweet way the last few weeks of my mother's life—partially because my mother could no longer take her yellow mutt, Dandy, for walks here in the unfamiliar city, and streetwise Lucy had risen to the occasion. Which was why I'd given the dog to Lucy when my mother died two months ago.
It was Lucy who'd made a fuss that Manna House didn't have a proper memorial for "Gramma Shep." Lucy who first raised the idea of renaming the multipurpose room, and who kept fussing until a brass plaque with "Shepherd's Fold—Dedicated to Martha Shepherd" had been engraved.
I twisted in my seat and gave the room another cursory glance.
So why was Lucy missing now?
To my disappointment, Lucy and Dandy never did show. I would have liked to stay to visit with all the other friends, staff, and former residents who'd shown up for the dedication, but once the board chairman delivered the final "Amen," I had to slip out with P.J. and Paul and head straight to Weiss Memorial Hospital where my estranged husband had been admitted a week ago after a vicious beating.
When we got off the elevator on the patient floor, Paul darted ahead of us and into his dad's hospital room—but he came right back out. "He's not there!" Sure enough, the hospital bed laid flat, side rails down, clean sheets tucked and military taut, pillow stiff and undented. The monitoring machines were gone—no beeps, no blips, no drips—as if the room had never been occupied. "Philip?" I called, peeking into the bathroom, which was silly because the room was obviously empty.
"Mom?" Paul's voice wavered. "Dad isn't ... he didn't ... you know ..."
"No, no, honey!" I put an arm around my youngest in a quick hug. "They either moved him to another room or he's been discharged. Come on, we'll find out."
I hustled both boys out of the room and down the hall to the nurses' station. "Can you tell me if Philip Fairbanks has been moved to another room?"
The light-skinned African American woman at the desk—her ID tag said Floor Manager—held up a finger, then typed something into her computer. "Let's see. Pretty sure he was discharged this morning—yes. Here's the discharge order from Dr. Yin."
"Already? He was still having a lot of pain. And he can't drive with just one arm—"
"Taxi, Mom," drawled fourteen-year-old P.J. in his parents-can-be-so-dumb tone of voice.
The woman behind the desk smiled. "Yes. But I think he got a ride. A young man met up with him when they brought the wheelchair for your husband, said something about getting his car from the parking garage. Nice-looking young man, sandy hair, maybe nineteen or twenty ... not your son?"
I shook my head. Did I look old enough to have a twenty-year-old? I thanked her, and the boys and I headed for the elevator. Who in the world came to pick him up? Sandy hair, college age—almost sounded like Josh Baxter. But he'd been at the dedication the past couple hours. So who?
The elevator doors pinged open and we crowded on with an empty gurney, a transport tech, and two women in housekeeping tunics talking to each other in rapid Spanish. I looked at my watch. Already past four thirty. I had to get P.J. and Paul to SouledOut by six. Did we have time to stop by Richmond Towers and make sure their dad had gotten back to the penthouse safely and had everything he needed? Prescriptions? Food in the house? Laundry done?
Cool it, Gabby, I told myself. You're not his mother. Not even his wife exactly. We'd been separated for more than three months—under ugly circumstances. But Philip had been so different the past few weeks ... well, halfway decent, anyway. He didn't fight me for temporary custody of the boys, and we'd worked out a reasonable weekly visitation when the boys slept over at the penthouse. But his gambling losses ... whew. Philip's addiction to the poker table had turned his well-planned world inside out, and I couldn't turn my back on him when some loan shark sent his hooligans to "persuade" Philip to pay up.
"So what do you guys want to do?" I asked the boys as we located our second-hand Subaru in the parking garage and climbed in. "We could go to Richmond Towers and try to see your dad now. Or we could go tomorrow after church when there won't be any rush."
"I wanna go see Dad now," Paul piped up from the back seat.
"You sure? We won't have much time to visit if you guys still want to go to the Lock-In. And what if he asks you to stay overnight? You missed your overnight with him last weekend when he ended up in the hospital."
"He just got out, Mom." P.J. sounded ticked off. "It's not like we'd be able to do anything together."
"I wanna go now," Paul repeated.
I backed out of the parking spot and headed down the multilevel ramp toward the exit. "Okay. Now it is." Maybe just as well. We'd have a natural leave time since I had to get the boys to the Lock-In.
I handed four bucks and my parking ticket to the attendant at the exit, and within minutes we were heading north on Sheridan Road toward the luxury high-rise I'd once shared with my husband.
Chapter TwoI pulled the Subaru into a Visitor Parking space on the narrow access road between Richmond Towers and the park that ran along Lake Shore Drive in the distance. The trees in the park were still full and green this first weekend of October since the weather was fairly warm. But I imagined the park would be dressed in beautiful reds and golds in a few weeks ... before the lakefront turned to ice and the Windy City lived up to its name during a sharp, biting Chicago winter.
And what would Lucy and Dandy do then?
Following my boys toward Philip's building, I glanced back over my shoulder on the off chance I might see my bag lady friend and the yellow dog she'd adopted after my mom died. This park was one of Lucy's favorite hangouts and where I'd run into her the first time we'd "met" last spring. Didn't see either of them ... but I did catch a glimpse of the opening to the pedestrian tunnel that ran beneath Lake Shore Drive, allowing dog walkers and joggers access to the shores of Lake Michigan on the other side.
The tunnel where Philip had been viciously attacked and beaten a week ago today while out jogging.
A cold shudder ran down my spine as the boys and I pushed through the revolving door into the lobby of Richmond Towers. Lucy had seen some suspicious characters hanging around the luxury high-rise for several days before the beating took place. Since the attackers hadn't taken his watch or anything valuable, it looked like a "warning" from the loan shark who'd been threatening Philip.
Those brutes obviously knew where Philip lived. Was he safe coming back here?
Using the key card I still had in my purse, I swiped the security pad that let residents into the small elevator lobby. A few minutes later the boys and I stepped out of the elevator into the marble foyer of the thirty-second floor. The penthouse was the only living unit on this floor. Even though I still had a key, I pushed the doorbell. No way was I going to walk in if Philip was already there.
The door opened. But it wasn't Philip framed in the doorway. A young man stood in the gallery, sandy hair sticking out from under a Cubs baseball cap, a curious grin on his face. "Hi!" he said. "You looking for Mr. Fairbanks? C'mon in. He's in the living room. Guess that's what you call it. Wow! Never seen such a view."
P.J. and Paul both stared at the stranger, then Paul ran inside. "Dad? Dad! You okay?" P.J. and I followed.
Philip was sitting in his recliner, facing the floor-to-ceiling glass windows that wrapped around one corner of the large room. He turned his head as the boys came close. "Hey, guys," he said, wincing as though the movement took too much effort.
Even though I'd been at the hospital at least once a day since the beating, it was still a shock to see Philip's shaved head—that beautiful head of dark brown hair, always so carefully groomed—with the ugly red gash on the right side held together by a railroad track of stitches. The bruises from his broken nose were still spreading and now filled his eyes, giving him a brooding look. His broken right arm in its cast and sling rested on the arm of the recliner, but he managed to give both boys an awkward hug with the other arm.
Excerpted from who is my shelter? by NETA JACKSON Copyright © 2011 by Neta Jackson. 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
Neta Jackson’s award-winning Yada books have sold well over 500,000 copies and are spawning prayer groups across the country. She and her husband, Dave, are also an award-winning writing team with over 2.5 million in sales. They live in the Chicago metropolitan area where the Yada storis are set.
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It took me a while to finally feel this book, but feel it I eventually did. Although this is the fourth installment to the Yada Yada House of Hope series, this did not really keep me from connecting the dots and consequently connecting with the characters. Who Is My Shelter? tells the story of a variety of women with different characteristics and personalities, and how each of them helps keep the other on her feet despite having problems of her own. Although told in Gabby Fairbanks's point of view, this tale encompasses many different facets of life and all its blessings, struggles, and unexpected miracles through her own life and the lives of a couple other women in the homeless shelter she works in, as well as the ones in the apartment building she has bought and turned into a residential haven for homeless single mothers. Gabby has indeed come a long way from when her husband threw her out of their own home. She's doing quite all right, working with the homeless residents in the Manna House Women's Shelter, trying to keep her own House of Hope in order, while nurturing her newfound connection with God. That is, until her husband's life takes a turn for the very worst and she feels a need to be by his side, despite the nagging memories of the pain he has caused her only six months prior. While trying to sort through her feelings about their filial situation, she finds herself caught in a load of other ordeals concerning the women in her life-most notably, Estelle Williams, the shelter's cook, and Lucy, the bag-lady who just can't seem to stay at one place. This novel teaches us how God's subtle ways can eventually make things right in his own time, if we can only learn to trust our lives to Him. It also shows the importance of forgiveness, companionship and second chances. It is quite an inspiring book, peopled with inspiring men and women supporting and helping each other despite their big and petty differences. But although both Gabby and Estelle's lives have moved on to a brand new start, it seems that Lucy's has only just begun... Now, if I can only find a way to acquire the next installment so that I know what happens next. :)
I could not put this book down. And when I did come close to the end I didn't want to finish it. It was like walking away from friends. I cannot wait for another one to come out. I am going to get Mr. Harry's books and go back to the prayer group. Promise the only disspointment you will get is when the book ends you want there to be more.
I recently read Who Is My Shelter? By Neta Jackson, the fourth installment in her Yada Yada House of Hope series. Who Is My Shelter? brings you into the life of Gabby Fairbanks, a devoted mother who has come on hard times as she goes through many hardships of being forced out of her home, her wayward husband and trying to live life day to day in Chicago. Gaby struggles to come to terms all the while helping out at homeless/ abuse shelter and giving Gods gifts to others. Threw out the book Gaby faces day to day problems many find themselves dealing with, threw her faith she is able to survive the storm that her life has turned into. I hadn't read the first three books in the series and truthfully, you don't need to. It drops you right into the hospital showcasing Gabby's estranged husband who has wasted his life away and has ended up in a bad position both financially and physically. These book talks of God's love and how he shows it in many different forms from giving you a new start to brining something back that you once thought may have been lost. I recommend this book to newcomers and older readers alike because it is true to nature, like revisiting an old friend or meeting someone for the first time and being able to known them from first glance.
Who Is My Shelter by Neta Jackson is the fourth book in the Yada Yada House of Hope series. Gabby Fairbanks has been through some major turmoil in the last six months, but things are finally starting to look up. The apartment building she purchased is becoming a home for homeless women and their children, she loves her job at the Manna House Women's Shelter, and she has settled into a routine with her two sons, P.J. and Paul. But her estranged husband Phillip is shaking things up again. While in the midst of his gambling addiction he gambled away much of his personal wealth, embezzled money from his company, and borrowed funds from a dangerous loan shark who beat him so severely in the last book that this volume opens with him in the hospital. He is shook up by the experience and is re-evaluating everything, including his separation from Gabby. Add in Lucy's long lost sister, troubles between Harry and Estelle, new women moving into the House of Hope, and Lee, Gabby's attorney who makes no secret of his feeling for her, and you have plenty of drama! I just love this series, a spinoff from the Yada Yada Prayer Group series. After seven books in that series, plus these four, the characters have come to feel like family and friends. Gabby and friends have grown so much over the course of the series, from a wealthy but spineless woman who is abandoned by her husband to a strong woman of faith with TWO men pursuing her. Jackson never gets preachy, but offers reminders for readers of God's provision and unfailing love. I'm so glad there is at least one more book in this series, and I will be so sad when it ends.
I just finished reading 'Who Is My Shelter?' by Neta Jackson. It is the story of Gabby Fairbanks. A middle-aged woman going through a difficult separation from her husband Phillip, after being thrown out of her own home. Gabby is making a new life for herself, raising her two teenage boys, and working at a job that gives her life meaning... running the House of Hope for homeless single moms and their kids. Gabby is a Christian who let the promise of romance and a better future distract her from God. But the trials in her life prove to be the very thing that leads her back to Him. And He shows her that He is the only Rock she can lean on. I enjoyed meeting the various characters in this, the forth book in a series of House of Hope novels. Because I hadn't read the first three, I was worried I would feel left behind, unable to connect the dots, but I found myself able to jump right into the story with enough background information scattered throughout. The author moves easily from one character's situation to another, weaving pieces together in ways only God could arrange. I look forward to reading the next book, anxious to learn what happens next in the lives of these people I have come to know.
To say that Philip Fairbanks is having a bad day would be an understatement. He's been mugged just outside his penthouse and is now recovering in the hospital. He has a broken arm, half his head has been shaved to allow for a railroad track of stitches to cover his scalp and a broken nose. At least he is alive. His estranged wife, Gabby is still dealing with being kicked out of the penthouse after Philip wanted nothing to do with her or being married and sent his sons PJ and Paul off to his parents house until Gabby could find suitable housing. He wants out of the hospital but with no one really to come to his aid, he is befriended by Will Nissan who is visiting his nana and offers him a lift home. What Philip finds waiting for him at home, is more of the men he owes money to pay off his gambling debt. The loan shark turns out to be a cop by the name of Fagan who isn't about to let Philip off the hook without paying up. Gabby is trying to make it on her own now developing a halfway house for homeless women and their children called House of Hope. Struggling with dealing with running this home, and navigating the unseen waters with her husband Philip who now comes to the realization that he acted a bit too hastily in wanting out of their marriage and wants another shot. To make matters even worse, Philip's partner in business wants to buy him out since he's found out that Philip's been borrowing money to satisfy his gambling urges. In the book, Who Is My Shelter by Neta Jackson, we see Gabby standing at the crossroads of her faith with God, not quite knowing which direction she should turn in. Will she give Philip and her family a second chance? Will she commit to her decision to run House of Hope and provide a second chance to the women and their families to get off the street? To find out, check out this book of second chances and see the path that God has in store for Gabby! I received this book compliments of Christian Fiction Blog Alliance for my honest review and LOVED it. It is the fourth book in the Yada Yada House of Hope series and will be one you'll want to begin at the very first book. It's that good! This book is available as a paperback and eReader format and rates a 5 out of 5 stars.
This books description made me want to read it so bad. I couldn't wait to get it in the mail, then after I read a few chapters I was disappointed. The book kind of jumps from one subject to another, Gabby seems to loathe her estranged husband, her kids don't seem that important to her. This book helped portray that Christians are not real, that we are more drama filled like all the stereotypes. If you are looking for a book about Christ filled people, who do God's work and can balance it all this is NOT the book for you.
This is the fourth book in a spin-off of her widely popular Yada-Yada series and it is a wonderful read! I haven't read the first three books in the series, so I was a bit hesitant and wondered if I would be able to follow the plot line. I had no trouble. The characters seem to jump off the page, and the honest writing at times made me cringe as I mirrored my own cozy life. What I always enjoy from Neta Jackson's writing are the struggles that her characters go through - this isn't a fluff book. There are real worries, real struggles about faith, commitment, redemption, and seeking God's will. Gabby has finally started to put the broken pieces of her life back together. After being cast out of her home by her husband, she founded the House of Hope, a home for homeless moms and their children. She works at a local shelter, has started going back to church, and is raising her sons without her husband. At a time when her life finally seems to come together, her husband reappears to asks for forgiveness and the chance to start over. What should Gabby do? The story is real and inviting - from the first page I was caught up and wanted to see where the story led. There are twists and turns in Gabby's story, and her story is interwoven with several sub-plots that keep the pace quick and the reader guessing. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and came away refreshed and reminded by how miraculous God is, and how amazing it can be to watch something that was broken become renewed by His love. I highly recommend this book!
Neta wraps up many of the questions surrounding what was going to happen to Gabby and Phillip. After reading the first 3 books, and knowing what Phillip put Gabby through, I wasn't sure if I wanted things to work out between this couple. I was impressed with how Phillip seemed sincere with his apology to Gabby in the hospital. But what touched me the most about this book, was Gabby admitting to Phillip that she did play a major part in the demise of their marriage. She admitted to him that her decisions to apply for the job, and to bring her mother home where life changing decisions that they should have discussed together. I enjoyed the story that was introduced in this book regarding Lucy, the homeless woman that was the main reason Gabby and Phillip started having major problems in Chicago. It was heartwarming to see that this feisty old woman had a softer side to her, and that her family didn't just abandon her, as I first thought when I began reading this series. All in all, I really enjoyed this book, and I hope that Ms. Jackson will write more Yada Yada books, hopefully in the near future!
Engaging. Believable. Personal and Uplifting. These are some of the words I would use to describe Neta Jackson's book, Who is My Shelter? An offshoot from her wildly popular The Yada Yada Prayer Group series, the House of Hope series stands strong on its own accord. With the characters you know and love from the Yada Yada series sprinkled throughout the story line, a former Neta reader gets just enough familiarity to help you feel comfortable but not so much that you feel you've "been down this road before". I received Who Is My Shelter? through the BookSneeze program with Thomas Nelson publishing. Why they choose to put out book #4 in the series and not #1 is a bit unclear, but fortunately this book gave enough background information to keep the reader from feeling lost as the story line progressed. Though I hadn't read any of the other books, I could easily get into the swing of things, relating effortlessly with the characters at hand. By the end of the book, though, I'll admit I was very curious to get the "full story" of Gabby Fairbanks, the protagonist in this series, and will probably scoop up numbers 1-3 soon. Author Neta Jackson has a captivating way of weaving faith into her story lines, allowing the reader to struggle along with the characters during hard time and rejoice during good times. Though faith is not as strong of a theme in this series as in the Yada Yada series, it still plays a key role in many of the character's lives. There were a few disappointments as I read along. For example, I was disheartened about Gabby's choice to date another man while still married, even though she and her husband were separated. We see so much of this "romantizing of the affair" in pop culture, I hated to see it seep into Christian fiction as well. I also expected to hear a bit more from the Yada Yada ladies, but they were more like secondary characters at best. After falling in love with the ladies while reading the original series, I was looking forward to "staying caught up on their lives" (yes, I know it's fiction!). However, the characters in this series are just as endearing and I quickly grew interested in their stories as well. As usual, Neta Jackson did not disappoint. Not normally a fan of fiction, I would read one of her books anytime.
In Who Is My Shelter Neta Jackson concludes the story of Gabrielle Fairbanks. This is a fourth book in a series where she tells of Gabby's journey from the rich socialite whose husband kicks her out and she becomes homeless. But in the shelter she returns to the God of her youth and with God's helps rebuilds her life. Neta weaves a mosaic of people from various ethnic, spiritual and economic lives into a narrative in such a way you feel like you know the individuals in the story. She helps you to see the people as God might see them and you long for the community they have with each other and the depth in their prayers for one another. The characters deal with issues and learn how to trust in the one who is our shelter. This is a heartwarming story about forgiveness and Gods grace. This is the fourth installment in a series that melts your heart and makes you think about what you hold dear to your heart. I really enjoyed it and will be looking for the previous three books in the series. The author really pulls you into Gabby's struggle as she tries to figure out what god wants for her. Does she trust her husband again and go back, or does she stick with the new life she has created for her and her children? I really like the cover art as well as the story itself and am glad to have it as an addition to my shelf.
Every woman needs a safe shelter. The tables have turned and Gabby's estranged husband-who threw her out when she didn't live up to his image of a "corporate wife"-needs her in a way neither ever expected. He's begging for reconciliation, but Gabby has moved on, finding purpose and a future in the House of Hope. Not only has she found shelter for herself and her sons there, but she's able to help provide shelter for homeless moms and their kids. And yet . . . there's a hole in her life. Is God leading Gabby down a new path and giving her something-and someone-new? Or is He redeeming what she thought was gone forever? (book blurb) First, I figured out once I got the book that it's the fourth in a series, so there were some things I didn't get until toward the middle of the book. Some parts of it were a little slow to me, but that could also be due to the fact that I haven't read the books before it. Aside from that, this was a pretty good read. The House of Hope is a cute setting for the story, and the various characters that live/work there have a lot of depth and go well together. There's also a few mysteries tossed into the story; one seemed a little obvious to me, but it was a nice touch to the story and answered a lot of questions that the characters have. One thing I thought was pretty neat was that the cover image goes with one of the scenes in the book. Overall, this was a pretty good read. I received this book free from Booksneeze in exchange for an honest review.
In Chicago, Philip Fairbanks changed the locks on their penthouse kicking his wife Gabby to the street and sending their two children P.J. and Paul away; with her mother and a dog, she moved into the Manna House where she worked (see Where Do I Go? and Who Do I Talked To?). Gabby got her act together and now she, mom, the dog and her children live in a small apartment (see Who Do I Lean On?) together. Meanwhile Philip recovers in a hospital after receiving a beating for non payment of his exorbitant gambling debt. His business partner is irate with him and his father disappointed with him. However, the biggest hammer to his gut is when Gabby and the kids visit him. Philip meets Will Nisson whose grandma is at the hospital. Will tells him that his grandma has been looking for her older sister for six decades, but has not given up hope. Philip misses Gabby and realizes how much he truly lost when he kicked her out. He wants her back, but she has moved on with a purpose at the House of Hope shelter for homeless mothers and kids. The fourth Yada Yada House of Hope inspirational series is a wonderful tale in which Philip and Gabby ride separate escalators going in different directions, as she never lost faith even when he kicked her to the street and he never had faith even before he dumped her. Fans of the series will appreciate this fabulous story line as other subplots involving Will and his grandma, and Harry the cop, etc. add depth to a terrific entry. Perhaps the only caveat is that newcomers read the previous novels to understand how far Philip and Gabby have come. Harriet Klausner