Wishing on Dandelions: A Maranatha Novel

Overview


Maranatha Winningham admittedly has some trust issues, As she tries to sort out the confusing layers of love--of friends, of family, of suitors, and desperately, of God--Natha struggles to find herself before she turns into a scared shadow of a girl.
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Overview


Maranatha Winningham admittedly has some trust issues, As she tries to sort out the confusing layers of love--of friends, of family, of suitors, and desperately, of God--Natha struggles to find herself before she turns into a scared shadow of a girl.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781576839539
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/15/2006
  • Series: Maranatha Novels
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 5.56 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.01 (d)

Meet the Author


Mary E. Deluth has spent the last fifteen years as a writer. Winner of the 2003 Mount Herman Christian Writers Conference’s Pacesetter’s Award, she now splits her time between writing and, together with her husband, Patrick and two other families, planting a new church in the South of France, where they live with their three children.
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Read an Excerpt

Wishing on DANDELIONS

A Maranatha Novel
By Mary E. DeMuth

NAVPRESS

Copyright © 2006 Mary E. DeMuth
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-57683-953-9


Chapter One

Summer 1987 Burl, Texas

EVERY YEAR ON THE ANNIVERSARY OF his stroke, and many times in between, Maranatha retraced the route she and Camilla had ridden that day. In front of her bike tire beckoned a serpentine of gray pavement radiating heat. The more her shirt clung to her body in a sticky embrace, the better she liked it.

Penance.

She'd learned the word from Bishop Renny. He said something about trying to make things right by abusing yourself. Said Jesus took the need for all that away. But she knew Jesus would say something different to her, considering how she'd nearly killed Uncle Zane because of her selfishness.

The hot Burl breeze tangled Maranatha's hair so that it whipped and wrangled about her face. She didn't mind, didn't even brush a casual hand to her face to clear the hair from her eyes. At seventeen, she welcomed the wildness, wearing her tangles like a needed mask. A gust of sideways wind whipped the mask from her face.

Maranatha passed the costume shop where, behind a cracked front window, one headless mannequin sported a faded Santa suit and another, a sequined Twenties dress. She pedaled past the farm implement shop whose yard was dotted with ancient rusty plows. This strip of road held most of Burl's broken dreams - a turn-of-the-century white farmhouse, now converted into a bedand breakfast that no one visited, a hand-painted For Sale sign declaring the dream dead. A mobile home stood way back on a fine piece of property, the structure tilted oddly to the left where the cement blocks had deteriorated. A goat preened on its roof, claiming it for himself. Four years ago, children had played out front. She and Camilla had even waved to them. So carefree for such a day.

Wiping the sweat off her forehead with the back of her hand, she glanced down at the too-small bike, despising it, as if it had once held her hostage, carrying her away from Uncle Zane's need four years ago when she and Camilla had been drawn toward the lure of cotton candy and caramel apples.

Maranatha veered onto the familiar gravel driveway flanked by crepe myrtles. She stopped, straddling her bike, catching her breath. She listened for cars but heard only the labored noise of a tractor, far away, until the engine sputtered and died.

The silence roared at her.

It should have blessed her with peace; instead, she remembered Uncle Zane's hair askew and wondered why God let a selfish girl like her take up space in this world.

She looked behind her. Her thoughts shifted as a deeper worry played at her, taunting her. Though she never voiced it, she lived with a constant fear that someone would burst from the silence and grab her. She hated that she always looked behind, like she was expecting some crouching phantom to nab her. She'd been running from monsters bent on destroying her ever since General first drawled, "Hey, Beautiful" in her ear. Even though she was sheltered in uncle Zane's white house and safety was no longer elusive, she always felt the presence of evil five steps behind her. Ready to suffocate her.

She glanced at her wrist to soothe her fears. Circling it was her name, MARANATHA, each sterling letter separated by a bead. Zady'd given it to her a year after she found out that her real name wasn't Mara but Maranatha. Part of her quest in discovering her identity was a need for a name that meant more than "bitter." When she learned that her real name meant "come, Lord Jesus," a part of her heart enlivened, as if it knew she was named that all along. She touched each letter, thanking God that He added Natha to the end of her name, that he changed her from bitter to a heart where Jesus could live. If he wanted to, that is.

She got off her bike. The same wrought-iron gate stood erect before her, chalkboard black and foreboding, with an out-of-place silhouette of a squirrel at its arched top. It always reminded her of Willy Wonka's gate, the gate that prohibited children from seeing the mysteries within the glorious chocolate Factory. She laid her bike in its familiar dusty place behind the crepe myrtles and approached the gate. Locked.

As usual.

Heart thumping, she tried the handle, a ritual she performed every time she ventured to this place, the scene of her selfishness. Why she thought it would magically open today, she didn't know. When she tugged at it, the gate creaked a warning, but it didn't budge. Looking back toward the road, she listened again. Nothing. Only the sound of a dove calling to its lover and the crackle of too-dry grass rubbing against itself like a fiddle against its bow. She breathed in the hot air and touched the angry wrought iron. She returned to the bike, unzipped the pouch behind her seat, and stretched on her bike gloves. Attacking the gate again, she pulled herself up, up, up until she could swing her leg over the gate's pointed top. She scampered down, preferring to jump the last three feet.

Maranatha smiled. Before her was an open field whose hair was littered with dandelions past their prime. Bits of dandelion white floated in front of her like an idle snowfall, only these flurries drifted toward the sun, away from the ground, in lazy worship. Beyond the field stood the remains of the charred mansion.

Now shaded by the house's pillars, she remembered uncle Zane's eyes the day of his stroke. The smile left her face.

She ran to the middle of the field, trying to shake the memory - her laughing, laughing, laughing while Uncle Zane pled for her. She stopped. Maranatha picked one dandelion, held it to her mouth, and blew a warm breeze over its head, scattering wishes toward the has-been mansion. Jesus, You know my name. I want to live up to it. I want my heart to be a place where You want to come. But I'm afraid it's too dark there. What I've done. What's been done to me.... I'm sorry I'm so needy, but I have to know, have to know it in my gut. Please show me You love me anyway. Whatever it takes.

It had been her wish since she met Jesus under the pecan tree at her home, back in the days when Uncle Zane had a quiet will and Zady, his housekeeper and her friend, kept house without the intrusions of Georgeanne, who had invaded their peaceful home with her schemes. Zady dished out helpings and helpings of his love every day at uncle Zane's table, but Maranatha never seemed to be able to digest even a scrap. She experienced Jesus at church, surrounded by Mama Frankie and faces darker than her own. When dark-skinned Denim spoke or his pale-faced stepdaughter Camilla rhymed truth, Maranatha thanked God for making unique folks, for giving her friends. Still, Jesus' love seemed far away, and she, undeserving.

A portion of her little girl's heart had been abducted by General, the boy-turned-man who violated her so many years ago. His pocked face visited her in nightmares where she had no voice, no safety, no escape. He seemed to lurk behind every stray noise. He didn't haunt Burl anymore, but he lived firmly in her mind, igniting dread. She feared he'd stolen the only part of her that could have understood God's love. She feared he held the middle piece to the puzzle of her life.

Am I wishing for something I'll never have?

Maranatha shielded her eyes from the pursuing sun and walked toward the burnt house. Four once-white pillars stood tall, blackened by angry flames. She remembered when she'd first seen Uncle Zane's home nearly a decade ago, how it loomed large on its street, how she'd longed to be the owner there someday. But reality was more complicated than that. Sure, she lived there now. Little by little, she was renovating it to splendor, but lately the joy of transforming it had waned thin, like a pilled swimsuit at summer's end. Fixing things was hard. She'd painted and painted until her fingernails were permanently speckled. Then the pier and beam foundation settled further, cracking her handiwork.

As she gazed upward at the four pillars that reached for the sky, where the abandoned house's roof once lived, she wondered if she'd ever have a home of her own, children about her legs, a husband to love her. The thought of marriage both repulsed her and pulsed through her. Hatred and longing - all in one girl.

She walked through the rubbish, darkening her red-dirted shoes, looking for a sign from heaven. She played this game sometimes, asking God for signs, for sacred objects that showed her that He saw Her, that he knew she existed. That He cared.

Something glinted off and on as the sun played hide-and-seek through the trees. She bent low to the ashes, her body blocking the sun. The glinting stopped, so she stood and let the sun have its way again. There, spotlighted beneath the gaze of the pillars, was a simple, thick-banded gold ring. She retrieved it, dusted the ashes from the gold, and examined it, turning it over and over in her hand.

Inside the ring was a faint engraving. Forever my love.

"Thank you," she whispered, but her words melted in a hot wind. Dark clouds obscured the sun. The sky purpled. She'd seen a sky like that before. She slipped the ring into her shirt pocket and ran toward her bike, climbed the hot gate like a criminal pursued, and dropped on the other side.

She mounted her bike. From behind she heard a bustled scurrying, like the furious bending of too-dry alfalfa.

Then darkness.

Someone's hands suffocated her eyes, obscuring the day, stealing her screaming breath. She kicked her leg over the ten-speed, struggling to free herself from the firm grip, and tried to holler. Like in her nightmares, she was mute from terror. Though she knew General's presence was illogical - he'd been shipped off to some sort of juvenile-offender boot camp - she could almost smell his breath as she gasped for her own. She heard a laugh but couldn't place it. It sounded familiar, like family.

She kicked and elbowed like a kindergarten boy proving his manhood against a playground bully, but the hands stayed enlaced around her eyes.

More laughter. Even more familiar.

She took a deep breath and screamed. Real loud.

Thunder answered back.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Wishing on DANDELIONS by Mary E. DeMuth Copyright © 2006 by Mary E. DeMuth. Excerpted by permission.
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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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2007

    Not All Wishes Blow Away

    Sometimes you read a book that takes you to a place and a time and leaves you there. The things you read become your experiences, your realities. And when you close the book you realize your life is enriched by what you read. Wishing On Dandelions by Mary E. DeMuth is such a book. From the first sentence, through the tornado to the last page the reader experiences life in small town Texas. Maranatha Winningham, a teenager with a gentle spirit is trying to fine her way in the world that stole her innocence. Trust holds no place in her heart. Hope often disappears as dandelion seeds blows across an autumn meadow. In the way only a teenage can, Maranatha tries to under stand many things at once. How can Uncle Zane marry that horrid Georganne Peach? Is there really more to her than you can see? Why can't she share her true feelings with Charlie? And what does his color have to do with it anyway? Why does the owner of the General Store care for her so much? And will she ever be able to get the 'mark' of her past away from her? Open the pages of this book and enter Maranatha's world. Grow, hurt, and find hope and trust with her. When you close the book there will be a smile on your face and joy in your heart. And a field of summer dandelions will forever be a field of wishes.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 2006

    Another winner for Mary DeMuth

    After reading Watching the Tree Limbs by Mary DeMuth, I couldn¿t wait to get my hands on her next novel. Now that I¿ve read it, I can only say that it was well worth the wait. DeMuth is unarguably one of the more gifted writers to grace any bookshelf in years. Picking up with Maranatha¿s story where she left off at the end of Watching the Tree Limbs, the author re-introduces the characters in such a way as to make the reader happy at being reunited with dearly beloved¿if a bit eccentric¿old friends. And from first page to last, DeMuth succeeds in making us cheer for Maranatha, as she struggles to overcome the demons of her past and fears of the future. May the saga of this little Texas town and its so-very-real inhabitants continue through the writing and publishing of many more books!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2006

    Wonderful Book!

    This book and the first, 'Watching the Tree Limbs,' are beautifully written. The story and its characters have a depth and richness often found in classics. You will be caught up and swept away by Natha's story, which began in 'Watching the Tree Limbs.' You will laugh and cry with Natha. Wonderful book. I look forward to Mary's next novel.

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  • Posted January 29, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Awesome sequel to Watching the Tree Limbs

    Wishing on Dandelions is another amazing work of art by the author, Mary DeMuth. The prose is beautiful, the story is riveting, and I loved the entire novel. The characters are so real. Some parts were so funny they had me rolling and other parts had me on the edge of my seat. I loved Watching the Tree Limbs, but I think I love Wishing on Dandelions even more. I love how the author shows true Christianity in her stories through the love that is shown to Maranatha by the people who care about her. I also loved the honest portrayal of merely religious people and their stifling ways. They are often the people who stunt the growth of new and struggling believers. Oh, and the tension between Maranatha and the two Charlies was fantastic, and the racism issue very realistic. Plus, the reluctance Maranatha exhibited in regards to helping put the 'bad guy' in jail is very typical of abuse victims. They are SO afraid. Totally believeable. Georgeanne and the uncle are so classic--as is their relationship. I loved watching them grow emotionally by occasionally popping from behind their protective walls to show affection to Maranatha the only way they knew how. And I loved Camilla's quirky poem ministry to Maranatha. Great stuff! You have to read the story to get my meaning there. The long and short of this review is...I don't want the series to end. I want to see Maranatha get married and deal once again with the issues that will arise when she makes those sacred vows and bears children. I hope the publisher agrees! Highly recommended!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2006

    Fabulous continuation of Marantha's Story

    The second installment in Maranatha's story, it picks up about seven years after the first book, Watching the Treelimbs. Maranatha is now 17 years old and trying to find out how to live and love in a way that honors God. The only trouble is she feels guilty about her uncle's stroke, angry about the invasion of her new step-aunt, upset that people may know and be telling her secret, and anxious about love and whether she will ever feel free to love someone. She feels marked by the sexual abuse she endured as a child. There is also an under-thread of racial reconciliation. Mary explores these topics with poignancy and authenticity. Burl seems like any other small Texas town -- caught somewhere in its past. When Maranatha has to testify at a trial, her future and past collide. This book can probably best be classified as women¿s fiction because of the residual issues of Maranatha¿s childhood sexual abuse. It is a beautifully told story, and I am eager to read more of Mary's books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2006

    A Beautiful Picture of Hope

    When Maranatha considers her feelings for childhood friend Charlie, she can't divorce those feelings from the abuse that happened to her seven years earlier. In a beautifully woven story, we experience Maranatha's anguish over the conflicted nature of her feelings. With the help of friends and mentors, Maranatha is able to face her fears and accept the love of Jesus, in spite of her past. You will laugh. You will cry. But in the end, your heart will be encouraged with the hope that God's love for Maranatha (and you and me!) overarches everything else.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2006

    Wishing for More

    When I read ¿Watching the Tree Limbs,¿ I was sad, wanting to continue reading to see where Mara's path in life would lead. To my delight, Mary DeMuth has graced us with ¿Wishing on Dandelions.¿ Even if you haven¿t read Mary¿s first book (but I recommend that you do), this book stands on its own merits. As we begin, we find that Maranatha is now seventeen years old, wishing with all that¿s within her for a sign from above that she is loved. Maranatha¿s family and the people in her small town are full, rich characters. They can be endearing and aggravating at the same time. Several act as conduits of God¿s love and in the process become her support system as she makes that journey from childhood to adult, from victim to victor, from darkness to light. DeMuth writes with more than a touch of humor. The `wedding chapter¿ had me laughing out loud many times, yet other chapters had me in tears or on the edge of my seat. I¿m desperate for a third novel. I¿m eager to find out so much more about this character I¿ve come to love named Maranatha. Bravo, Mary! Keep writing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2006

    Is Healing Possible For Vitims of Childhood Sexual Abuse?

    Is Healing Possible For Childhood Sexual Abuse Victims ? By Forrest W. Schultz A review of Mary E. DeMuth, Wishing On Dandelions (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2006) ISBN 1-57683-953-2 $12.99 339 pages The sexual abuse of children is one of the most heinous, most widespread, most embarrassing, and most devastating of all sins being perpetrated in modern times. Mary DeMuth is to be commended for her efforts to deal realistically with this horrific subject in her finely crafted Maranatha novels. Her first novel, Watching The Tree Limbs, tells the story of the abuse suffered by Maranatha when she was nine years old. Although the rapist was caught and punished and the abuse has ended, the emotional scars remain to plague her. The story in the second Maranatha novel, the one under review here, takes place when Natha is 17 years old and in desperate need of healing from these four scars: continual reliving of the horrible events in her memory, nightmares related to these events, her tendency to view herself as ¿damaged goods¿, and her fear that all men might be rapists. Although the focus of the novel is on her quest for healing from these scars, there are other strands interwoven into her story ¿ racial tensions, Natha¿s attempts to help her step-aunt Georgeanne (who is suffering from another kind of hurt), and the mystery surrounding Natha¿s parents. By thus placing Natha¿s quest for healing within her total life context, DeMuth gives us a fuller richer portrait than if she had restricted the story to the healing quest alone. The small town in which Natha lives with its interesting characters is also very important for the story -- so important, in fact, that it is in some ways reminiscent of certain books, such as Jan Karon¿s Mitford novels, where the focus is on the town itself. And it is some of these town characters who help Natha find healing from God. Since the story is narrated by the young woman Maranatha, it will be especially interesting to women readers, particularly young women readers. However, I do not believe that ¿women¿s¿ fiction is an accurate designation for it because it also has a message for men and is a book in which male readers can get interested. Designating this as a work of ¿women¿s¿ fiction is also inadvisable for another reason. Girls are not the only victims of childhood sexual abuse. Boys have also been subjected to sexual abuse and have also suffered traumatically from it. DeMuth refers to her works as ¿Relevant Prose¿ and she uses that designation both for her email address and her website. By writing the Maranatha novels about such a timely topic, she has shown that this designation is quite appropriate.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 2, 2006

    A sequel that can stand alone.

    Wishing on Dandelions by Mary E. DeMuth is wonderfully written and a story that is filled with emotion. Many of the citizens of the west Texas town of Burl have secrets, but 17 year old Maranatha is eaten up by hers. She had been sexually assaulted years earlier and that experience, coupled with having to testify in court, have scarred - and scared -her. She's frightened of strangers, of men, and of life in general. Even God and Jesus seem distant. It's only through the prayers and kindness of those who support and surround her that Maranatha finds her way past the many hurts she's experienced. She regains her trust in people and - most importantly - realizes that God has always been at her side. I would definitely recommend this book...it's a story I won't soon forget.

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