After the end of World War II, Clara Kirkpatrick returns from the Women’s Army Corp to deliver a dying soldier’s last wishes: convey his love to his young widow, Mattie, with apologies for the missed life they had planned to share.Struggling with her own post-war trauma, Clara thinks she’s not prepared to handle the grief of this broken family. Yet upon meeting Mattie, and receiving a baby quilt that will never cuddle the soldier’s baby, Clara vows to honor the sacrifices that family made.Now a labor and delivery nurse in her rural hometown, Clara wraps each new babe in the gifted quilt and later stitches the child’s name into the cloth. As each new child is welcomed by the quilt, Clara begins to wonder whatever happened to Mattieand if her own life would ever experience the love of a newborn. Little does she know that she will have the opportunity to re-gift the special quiltyears later and carrying even greater significance than when it was first bestowed.
About the Author
Emily T. Wierenga is a former editor, ghostwriter, freelance writer and staff journalist, a monthly columnist for The Christian Courier, and the author of Save My Children (Castle Quay Books, 2008), Chasing Silhouettes (Ampelon Publishing, 2012) and Mom in the Mirror (Rowman & Littlefield, 2013). Emily resides in Alberta, Canada. This is her first novel.
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A Promise in Pieces
Quilts of Love Series
By Emily T. Wierenga
Abingdon PressCopyright © 2014 Emily T. Wierenga
All rights reserved.
Noah looked like his father, and she hadn't noticed it before. But here in the backseat of a Dodge Caravan, strewn with skateboarding magazines and CDs, there was time enough to see it in the young man whose long legs stretched from the seat beside her. To see the freckles dusting her grandson's cheeks, the way his hair poked up like a hayfield, and how his eyes grabbed at everything.
Up front, Oliver asked Shane to adjust the radio, the static reminding Clara of the white noise she used to make with a vacuum or a fan to calm her newborns. The first one being Shane, her eldest, the one in the passenger seat turning now to laugh at his father, who wrinkled his long nose as Shane tried to find a classical station.
Then, Vivaldi's Four Seasons, and Clara could see Oliver smiling, pleased, and she remembered the way he'd looked over at her in church so long ago with the same expression: as though he'd finally found what he'd been looking for.
Noah was playing a game on one of those Nintendo machines. He noticed her watching him and said, "Do you want to give it a try, Grandma?" He looked so eager.
Gone were the days of Hardy Boys and marbles. "Sure!" Clara said, mustering enthusiasm as she took the tiny gadget. Then she saw what he was playing. Some kind of shooting game with uniformed men and guns and she nearly dropped it.
"I'm sorry, it's too complicated for an old woman like me," she said, handing it back and turning to stare out the window, at Maryland passing by, wondering what a kid in high school could know about war.
They were taking the George Washington Memorial Parkway, one of Clara's favorite drives, which would carry them from her home state to Mount Vernon, Virginia. They were passing through Glen Echo, north of Washington, DC. And Clara remembered the story her daddy had told her, on one of their summer holidays, about her namesake, Clara Barton, who'd spent the last fifteen years of her life here. The founder of the American Red Cross, Ms. Barton had tirelessly provided aid to wounded troops during the Civil War. She had dedicated her life to serving those in need, Daddy said.
On that holiday, Clara—only eight years old at the time—had decided she would do the same. After all, she had been named after Ms. Barton.
"Something wrong, Grandma?" Noah said.
Shane turned in the front seat. His green eyes met hers, and it seemed only yesterday she had brought him home wrapped in the quilt-the one cleaned, pressed, and folded, lying in the back of their van.
Shane's eyebrows rose and Clara shrugged, feeling cold in her white cardigan even though it was late June. It had been more than fifty years.
"Fifty years," she said, more to herself than anything, and the van was quiet. She'd had these moments before, many of them. Moments landing her in the past, amongst broken and dead bodies, for there hadn't been enough beds in Normandy.
Oliver peered at her now in the rearview, through his glasses, and she should give his hair a trim, she thought. It sprouted silver around his ears, and when had her soldier-husband aged? At what point between them marrying and adopting Shane and giving birth to two others had his hair turned gray?
Noah was tucking the game away now, saying, "I don't need to play this right now. What are you thinking about, Grandma?"
And she wiped at her eyes, moist, and cleared her throat and told herself to smarten up.
It was sixteen and a half hours to New Orleans, where they were heading for a family vacation, and she should make the most of the time she had with this boy who knew nothing of the miracle of the quilt in the back. Who knew nothing of loss, and this was good. But there is a need for history to plant itself in the hearts of its children.
"Do you know about Clara Barton?" she said. Noah shook his head.
"She was a woman of great character. The founder of the American Red Cross. This whole area is a National Historic Site in her name, and she didn't want it. All she wanted was to help people. In 1891, two men, Edwin and Edward Baltzley, offered Clara land for a house in an effort to draw people to this area. They offered her land, as well as free labor for building the house, believing people would come in flocks to see the home of the woman who founded the Red Cross.
"Clara was clever. As all women of the same name are," and here, she winked at Noah who laughed. "She had been looking for a new place to serve as headquarters for the Red Cross, so she took them up on it. She used the home originally as a warehouse for disaster-relief supplies, then reworked it and moved in six years later.
"A newly built electric trolley that ran into Washington brought in crowds of people to a nearby amusement park. When a new manager took over the park in 1906, he offered to buy Clara's home and turn it into a hotel. She refused, so he then tried to drive her out. Apparently, he built a slow-moving scenic railway right by her house, with a station by her front door. When it failed to work, he erected a Ferris wheel in front of her house. Can you imagine? It is said Clara loved the lights from the wheel. She served as president of the Red Cross until 1904 and kept living in the house until her death, eight years later, at age ninety. She said the moon used to always shine at Glen Echo."
Noah's eyes were fixed on her. "What a woman," he said.
Clara nodded. "I know. She's the reason I became a nurse. And went off to war when Daddy told me not to."
It was quiet in the car and then Shane said, "You can't stop there, Mom! Tell him the story!"
Oliver's eyes shining in the mirror, Vivaldi on the radio, and Maryland's fields of corn and hay waving graceful good-byes.
"You sure?" she said to Noah.
He folded his hands in his lap. "I'm all yours, Grandma."
And so, she began.CHAPTER 2
It was the first day of summer. I was twenty-one years old, single, and just graduated nursing school-Eva, too. She was my best friend, ever since grade school. Oh, how her long hair flew like yellow birds as we skipped down Main Street in our little town of Smithers. She was always the pretty one, and I was the smart one, but at the time we were just two girls celebrating.
And then we saw the United Service Organization Club, or the USO.
War was happening on the radio and in our pantries. We all had ration stamps by then and Mama kept saving tin because "we all have to do our part," she told us, in the faded pink apron she always wore.
Daddy kept preaching the same sermon to a congregation of about ten or fifteen women, babies on their knees, and the elderly all huddled together, muttering prayers. He talked to them of peace and turning the other cheek, but no one was listening anymore. Peace just seemed like a cruel kind of joke, and everyone just wanted their men home.
It made me kind of mad the way Daddy would stand there in his preacher's collar at the pulpit in Smithers First Christian Church, singing "Peace Like a River," when all of those babies had no daddies. But I was pretty young so I just slipped out the back as soon as the sermon was done, and Eva and I, we'd go swimming in the river and forget the whole thing. Until we went home and all we had for supper was horse meat or fried Spam because we'd run out of rations since Mama was always giving ours away. Like we weren't suffering, too.
Anyway, Eva was like my sister because I was an only child and she lived a couple of blocks from us, in a fancy house with white siding and pillars. Her daddy was the mayor.
We lived above the Main Street Diner, which closed down when people stopped having money to do anything. Pretty much all of Main Street had shut down in Smithers, and all we had was the USO, which opened up after Pearl Harbor happened.
I'll always remember taking the bus home from my first semester at Johns Hopkins two-year nursing program, December 7, 1941, the world all white and celestial outside, and seeing Mama staring out the window with an empty mug in her hand and Daddy behind her, his hand on her shoulder, and hearing President Roosevelt on the kitchen radio saying the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. "This is no joke," he said over the airwaves. "This is war."
The United States and Britain attacked Japan, and four days later, Hitler declared war on the United States, and Mama rocked a lot in her wooden chair while Daddy preached about peace, and I studied hard at nursing school to become like Clara Barton.
The USO was the first in Maryland they said, and for a while it was one of those places you just kind of look at like it's a candy store and you're a hungry kid. It was all bright and sparkly, full of men in uniform with pretty girls on their arms. Eva and I would climb a tree across from the club and pretend we were those ladies with their curled hair and their laughs.
But then the soldiers shipped out and the place became like an empty bottle of wine, attracting flies and smelling slightly sour. From time to time a woman would emerge, looking tired as all women did those days, and sometimes there were newly drafted boys with shine still on their shoes. But the building mostly sat waiting. As we all did.
Eva and I had never actually seen inside, so the day we were skipping up and down Main Street, celebrating our freedom, we decided to try it. We decided to put on lipstick and nice dresses and wait for servicemen to treat us to a night on the town. So we pulled out our fanciest, least-faded prints and ironed them because it had been years since we'd had any material to sew from, and we took cranberries and crushed them and tried to make our lips red but then we just sneaked into Eva's mom's bedroom and used her lipstick, because she was a fine lady. She always wore pearls and smelled like lilacs. Mama smelled like flour and lotion.
We fluffed our hair and smoothed our dresses and walked with our heads held high all the way down Main Street to the USO.
The woman inside who greeted us hardly looked at us, just kind of nodded wearily to the back of the room where there was a bar and a Ping-Pong table and some old men staring at their drinks. The air was kind of fuzzy, and the jukebox played Bing Crosby like it was trying too hard.
We hadn't known it would be so easy, and our heads weren't near so high as we stepped in our mamas' high heels to the back of the room and sat on stools and ordered Shirley Temples.
"Let's get out of here," Eva said in a whisper, her blonde hair hiding her face from the bartender who seemed just shy of death. I was about to respond when the old man at the other end of the bar asked us if we'd seen his son.
"He looks like his mother, God rest her soul," the guy said, and I still remember him like it was yesterday. He had the longest white beard, his eyes were gray puddles, and his fingers trembled around a glass of what must have been Scotch, although I wouldn't have known it then. All I knew was Daddy's communion wine, which was actually Concord grape juice.
"They drafted him two years ago, and he used to send these letters," he said in a voice so muffled we had to sit very still. "He'd tell me all about the war like it was all exciting and mysterious, but then the letters stopped coming."
His fingers trembled, his wet eyes hid behind his lids, and he swallowed, his beard moving up and down. We looked down at our Shirley Temples.
Here we were, all dressed up and playing games when real people were dying.
So we moved closer to this man who said his name was Roger, and we asked him more about his son, and his eyes just kind of popped open. And he told us stories. He told how his son, Sam, used to pick flowers for everyone he met, and he said, "I would always make fun of him, like he wasn't supposed to do that because he was a boy," said Roger, "but now I'd let him pick as many flowers as he wanted to. I'd say go and pick as many flowers as you want to, but I can't," and we patted his shaky hands and nodded because it was all we could do.
But later, when we left, the sky turning all purple and red the way it does before the sun goes down—like the skin of heaven is bruising or something—we didn't even say good night to each other. We just went each to our own homes, and I scrubbed off my lipstick and took off my dress and wore my oldest, scratchiest pajamas to bed and prayed for forgiveness all night and into dawn.
I barely slept that night. Come morning, a pebble struck my window, and I opened it. Eva stood there. "Come on, we need to go," she said.
"Where?" I asked, and she said down to the Red Cross recruiting center to sign up with the Army Nurse Corps.
So I shimmied out of my window and down the old oak tree the way I'd always done, and we went off to the military recruiting office to enlist.
* * *
It was a bit humiliating, stripping down so they could make sure we were fit for the army and I stared at a nail in the wall and Eva looked the other way and later we admitted we were both thinking about the tree branch in Eva's backyard where we sat every sunny afternoon when we were young, reading comics and braiding each other's hair and laughing about boys. Because the tree was our safe place.
Then the doctor did my physical exam and found a heart murmur and said normally they wouldn't let someone in this condition go, but they were desperate. So he took the sheet of paper stating I had a heart murmur and tore it in two, right in front of me, and signed another one saying I was fine.
My good conservative upbringing told me it was wrong, but I was ready for wrong. I'd been good and right my whole life, and all it had amounted to was a Bible by my bed and a picture of Jesus as a shepherd on my wall, while other girls my age had posters of Jimmy Stewart. And Jimmy had put his career on hold to enlist, so I decided I would, too, as I signed the forms saying I now belonged to the Army Nurse Corps. "Free a man to fight," the posters said. The roles were all scattered and reversed, and women were raising families and fixing machinery and delivering mail and driving trucks and forecasting weather, and no one was sleeping. The whole country was just kind of stumbling around in a mad state of insomnia. Roosevelt was on the radio, saying, "I regret to tell you that many American lives have been lost," and it was enough to keep us awake and fighting in our own humble ways. Even if it meant just fighting at home so the men could go abroad, but Eva and I would join the ranks of women who'd already signed up to care for the wounded, the ranks led so many years ago by Clara Barton.
A nurse had to be between twenty-one and forty years old. We entered the corps as officers, usually as second lieutenants, but our rank was not equal to that of men. We weren't that advanced. It wouldn't be until after the war that we'd earn the same privileges as the men. Nevertheless, there were more than twelve thousand nurses in the corps, and we weren't told where we were going. We were just shipped off blindly, like we were cattle; some were sent to Alaska, others to Australia, still others to North Africa and Europe, and some to places we'd never even heard of.
Our parents didn't know. We would be leaving on the train for military training in Virginia in one week, and it was such a long week. Mama kept looking at me strangely, and Daddy was even quieter than usual. Then one night over canned beans and dry toast, because we had no butter, I couldn't stand the silence anymore.
"Eva and I are thinking of signing up with the army," I kind of blurted out, and Daddy pushed back his plate and his chair and crossed his arms and breathed deeply, like he was in labor. Mama just sat holding a spoon midway to her mouth while the clock ticked brashly.
I wanted to break the clock.
Daddy pulled out a red-and-white handkerchief and wiped his forehead and Mama set her spoon down and I braced myself. I was small for my age, but I had a big temper, and they knew this. The floor was thick with eggshells.
"Clara Anne," Daddy said, and I shuddered at the sound of my full name. "Why would you go and do that? You know where this family stands on the issue of war," and Mama hung her head because she still collected tin cans and saved cooking grease and took lunch down to the women who worked long hours in the factories.
Excerpted from A Promise in Pieces by Emily T. Wierenga. Copyright © 2014 Emily T. Wierenga. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Pulls you into the story.
Enjoyed the women's view and pain of war
Here is an intriguing story, which is part of Abingdon Press's Quilts of Love series. Each novel is written by a different author, and the only thing connecting them is that a quilt is featured in the story. The first page you read in this book says it is the year 2000 and Clara has her grandson Noah as a captive audience in the vehicle as the family sets out on a road trip. Not only is Noah forced to,listen as his grandmother recounts her life story to him, he is also a captive listener. Clara's story really begins as she volunteers as a nurse in WWII. Told in the manner of reminiscing, I was also captivated by the story and what became a mission to her. Twists and turns kept me turning the pages as I followed along with Noah. This holds both tragedies as well as emotional highs, and I will be looking for more of debut author Emily. T. Wirenga novels in the future. Thanks to Fred at The Book Club Network and Abingdon Press for this book which I received for the purpose of reviewing. A positive critique was not required. The opinions are my own. Inadvertantly I received a second free copy of this book in exchange for a review from Christen Krumm at Litfuse Publicity Group.
Holy moly. This book threw me for a loop. The reminiscent style of writing drew me right in and fascinated me with Clara's story and thoughts. I thought the first part was emotional, as Clara shares her experiences as a WWII nurse with her grandson and family. But it was when she returned from war and struggled with returning to normal life that the book really resonated with me. I was reading it during my daughter's swim lessons and had to wipe away tears from beneath my sunglasses- that's a huge indicator of just how good it is- crying in public! What's interesting to me is that I didn't exactly connect with Clara's personality- it was the poignant and profound truths that were revealed through her struggles that brought my feelings and some obviously repressed emotions to the surface. Yeah, my husband chuckled at me when he came into our room as I was finishing the book and literally sobbing- I can't remember the last time I had a good sob. "It's just a book," he said. "That's not why I'm crying!!!" I protested. Themes of birth, death, fear, love, family, service, trust, and faith are all intertwined as a hurting Clara searches for her calling and role in life. She is such a strong person but her vulnerabilities and fears eat at her, all the while she keeps moving forward and finding peace through serving others and providing relief to other hurting victims of war and life. Even through sadness and grief, the book ends with a new light and hope for Clara, which I thought was just so fitting and perfect. This is by far my favorite of the Quilts of Love series, and also my favorite use of a quilt in a novel. I can't recommend this book highly enough!!!
A Promise in Pieces is part of the Quilts of Love Series. It is the debut book for Emily Wierenga. She is an exceptional author. This book tells the story of Clara, as she reflects on her life story to her grandchildren and children. She tells of her times as a nurse and a midwife. She also includes a story of the quilt they are transporting to a museum for display. It is so realistic. She keeps you entertained the whole way through the book. I can't wait until I can read further works by this author.I recieved this book from the Book Club Network in exchange for my honest opinion.
A PROMISE IN PIECES is written as conversation a grandmother is having with her grandson while they are on traveling. She tells him about her life growing up, in the army as a nurse and what happened after. There are intervals as they stop to rest, eat, and sleep, then the story resumes. Clara's story is also about Jesus, love, grace and forgiveness; and about forgiving others as well as yourself. Her grandson is a wise boy and gleans from his grandmother's tale. The book is short and sweet, a weekend read. As you read, you feel like you get to know the characters, like you could even be a part of their family. Its relaxing and yet, you want to keep reading to find out what happened to Clara. This paragraph in the book "Oliver was doing really well at his job, so well, in fact, that we were lacking nothing, and this, I felt indicated a problem. Because we had not reason to need God anymore" really spoke volumes to me. Because although we are not necessarily "rich" in material possessions we are blessed, so blessed in fact that it is easy to become ungrateful and our mundane life is kind of just that mundane and pointless. I think this book is also a challenge to be all you can be for God, use your talents, your resources and whatever else you have to work for Him. That is true fulfillment in life. There are a few unexpected turns to the story and the ending is quite bittersweet, but I would highly recommend this book. The author did a great job, and I left inspired and moved to continue working on becoming all that God wants me to be. I was blessed with this book courtesy of TBCN in exchange for my unbiased opinion.
WWII, a promise to a dying solder and a gift of a quilt – all these things come together for a young lady and bring her an extraordinary life…….. “A Promise in Pieces” by Emily T Wierenga is one of the latest in the “Quilts of Love” Series. Emily’s writing will draw you into the life of Clara, a young girl that goes off to war with the Women’s Army Corp. Through that job she makes a promise to a dying soldier to carry a message to his wife. Upon delivering that message, Clara is given a gift – a handmade quilt. Little does she know how much this one gift will change her life and fill it with joy and love. Emily Wierenga has created a story with so much emotion that you will actually feel a part of it. I know, I had to stop reading through the saddest part as I could not see through the tears. Great writers will do it every time. I did receive a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
A wonderful story about life... This story was by no means what I was expecting. I thought this would be a cutesy romantic WWII story. A Promise In Pieces was so much more than that! The story is in two sections and is from the perspective of an elderly woman on a road trip with her family, while traveling she tells her story to her grandson. Interspersed with her memories are events that happen on the road trip. There was a lot packed into this little book with less than 200 pages. One woman's lifetime of heartache and joy, the good memories and the bad. I loved how realistic the story is, Emily T. Weirenga has done and amazing job portraying that life isn't always easy and sometimes it can get pretty hard, but through it all the heroine learns the power of hope, forgiveness, love, and faith in a God that orchestrates it all. A Promise In Pieces is a real tearjerker but it is still full of hope and faith. A Promise In Pieces is a good story to be read by people of all ages, young women like myself to great-grandmothers who have lived it themselves. (I received a copy of this book from Abingdon Press through The Book Club Network for my honest review. All opinions are my own)
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was amazing how it took us from the US (New Jersey) to the fields of France during WWII. Clara was an amazing woman. The fact that she wanted to honor Gareth with the quilt is amazing , but to add others to that honor. Clara's story is utterly amazing. I didn't want to put this book down and when it ended, I wanted more. I was glad that there were real life sad times in this book. It keeps you grounded in that real life has much sadness. This book also teaches us that we need to embrace what we are given I was given a copy of this book from Book Club Fun for my honest review. I am not expected to give a positive review.
Outstanding! My skills as a reviewer cannot begin to summarize this book and do it justice. This book needs to be absorbed piece by piece like the blocks and stitches in the quilt that holds this story together. The fact that this is Emily T.Wierenga's debut novel is astonishing! It is impressive that a young woman created the life story of an elderly woman with such incredible depth of feeling and insight. The author displays wisdom beyond her years in portraying the yearnings, passion, emotions and realities in the life of the main character in "A Promise in Pieces." The layers in this story are like the layers of a quilt, bits and pieces of cloth that comprise the top, batting which adds thickness and warmth, a backing to encase the batting, and the stitches which strengthen and bind the quilt together. As Clara's life unfolds and her faith is many times questioned assurance is realized through the light of something tangible in her life, and the scheme of God's plans are revealed, strengthening her resolve. This is one woman's story, her journey of faith, her fears and dreams, the journey she travels throughout her life, and the people who become the focus in her life. This is an amazing piece of art that may be lost on young readers who lack the experiences of older readers, but I believe that the lessons learned throughout this beautiful story can be applied to anyone's life. I highly recommend "A Promise in Pieces" as a remarkable and brilliant narrative! I look forward to future books by this author! Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Abingdon Press through the Book Fun program, a program sponsored by The Book Club Network, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own, and no monetary compensation was received for this review.
As 77 year old Clara and her husband make a cross country journey with family, Clara begins to share the couple's story with the grandchildren. It is a gentle tale of overcoming the fear of loving amidt the aftermath of WWII, finding one's purpose in life, and of realizing the role others have in helping you find your place. A very special quilt takes center stage in this story, making Emily Wierenga's QUILT OF LOVE novel one of my favorites in the ever growing series. Being a "mature" reader, I love that this is an older couple's story, one which quietly spans the decades, illustrating once again that the greatest loves do not necessarily arrive in a blaze nor do they command the attention of the multitudes. I received a copy of this title from LITFUSE for review purposes. All opinions are mine.
Emily T. Wierenga in her new book, “A Promise In Pieces” Book Seventeen in the Quilts of Love Series published by Abingdon Press brings us into the life of Clara. From the back cover: A small gift, a simple promise, a life forever changed It’s been more than fifty years since Clara cared for injured WWII soldiers in the Women’s Army Corp. Fifty years since she promised to deliver a dying soldier’s last wish. And fifty years since that soldier’s young widow gave her the baby quilt—a grief-ridden gift that would provide hope to countless newborns in the years to come. On her way to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Clara decides it’s time to share her story. Little does she know she will re-gift the quilt one more time—to a recipient who, perhaps, is most deserving of all. History, World War II, Quilting and a labor and delivery nurse. Quite a mix and, on the outside, it seems difficult to write a story combining all these elements. Not only has Ms. Wierenga captured them well she has also provided an excellent story. While it does seem to be Clara’s life story as she relates it during the car ride, it also is about the quilt and how if affected everyone’s life. This is a story about life in oh so many ways. Clara and the rest of the characters are outstanding and wonderful to be with and learn about. Ms. Wierenga has done an outstanding job of bringing history to the table. There is a lot in this book, much to think about and it just interesting and exciting as well. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group. 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.”
This was a good tearjerker book. If you love books that make you want to grab your family and hug them until they struggle to get away, this one is for you. Clara Kirkpatrick suffers from many things. Like stubbornness. Which she inherited from her father. I enjoyed watching her grow from a rebellious young woman into a mature adult that realizes that everyone is far from perfect - just like her - and that everyone needs forgiveness, compassion, and love. I very much enjoyed how much she loved her mother and how their relationship was so good. That was a blessing, and I liked how she came to grips with her father and why he acted the way he did. They were human - and I loved them for that. I didn't like Clara at the beginning, but she grew on me when she came to grips with herself and her beliefs. This novel skips from World War 2 to the year 2000, and there were times I found that pulled me from the story and I had to really concentrate on what I was reading to get myself back into it. I connected much better with the flashbacks than I did the year 2000 periods of the book. My thanks to LitFuse and Abingdon Fiction for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinions. I was not required they be positive.
A Promise in Pieces is one of the most unusual books (in a good way!) I've read in a long time. Clara is the focus of this story. While her family takes a trip to New Orleans, her grandchildren ask her to tell the story of her life. She takes us back to her time serving as a nurse during WWII and reflects on how that experience affects the rest of her life. It's an amazing story. Poignant, adventurous, emotional, sweet. I loved that the author gave us a beautiful love story—without making it a romance. It focuses on the love that Clara has with all of the people in her life. It was just beautiful! The author does everything an author is "not supposed to do." There's a bit of head-hopping. The time changes between the past and present (sometimes unclearly) throughout the book. There's more telling than showing. The main character's story is primarily told through a first-person narrative that feels a lot like stream of consciousness, with plenty of long sentences. But somehow, it totally worked! The author's style left me feeling like the characters were chatting with me over breakfast. It pulled me into the story in a way that few books do, and I was loathe to put it down. In fact, I read the story in two sittings! This is a phenomenal book, and I'm happy to recommend it! [4.5 stars] I received a free copy of this book from Abingdon Press through Litfuse Publicity in exchange for my fair and honest review.
Emily Wierenga's debut novel is one of those stories that feels real when you're reading it. In beautiful prose, she weaves together the memories and present experiences of one woman, Clara. And I felt like I was "listening in," or reading a private journal, as Clara told the story from her heart. It is the year 2000, and Clara's family is joining her on a road trip to New Orleans. Everyone knows this trip means a lot to her, and the destination involves a special event, but there are disparate parts of the story that need to be drawn together to show the whole, before they arrive. So Clara begins telling the tale of her life, in the backseat of the car where she rides with her teenage grandson. And as the miles roll on, so does the tale of A Promise in Pieces. I was as captivated as her grandson, Noah. Clara tells us of her strict growing up years in the 1930's, and then the night she learned that the war was tearing a hole out of souls and families and nations, and the hour she slipped out of the house to join the nursing corps, and then her time in the thick of the devastation. And then we see how the WWII never left her, it broke her heart and yet expanded it and made room for so much love. This story takes us along with Clara, through losses that shake her to the core and then her difficult return home and a search for purpose that leads her to places inside her that only God knew about. Because Clara narrates many chapters, this book reads like a mini-autobiography. I was engaged from the start, and even when it switched to third person, I was invested in her story and wanted to know what happened next. (This book would actually make a very cool movie, I think. You could have the scenes of the family on the road interspersed with scenes from Clara's life through the years.) So whether you like contemporary family stories, or if you enjoy historical novels, and if you love tales of women trying to find identity and value and forgiveness and a reason to go on, then try A Promise In Pieces. Thank you Litfuse for my review copy! I'll be looking out for whatever Emily Wierenga writes next!
A Promise in Pieces is one of the Quilts of Love stories and a book that will keep you entertained and engaged. When Clara’s best friend Eva, convinces her that the war effort is where they need to be, Clara and Eva join the Women’s Army Corps. Clara’s father, a pastor, emphatically disagrees with the war efforts and although it may cause her to be disowned, Clara boards the train and heads off to do her part for WWII. Through the reality of war, Clara is forced not only to grow up, but to put love into action on behalf of the wounded soldiers she is to care for. In a crisis of faith, she is faced with reconciling the two versions of God she’s known until a man named Gareth becomes her patient. And in his song, he shows her what God is really about. When Eva and Clara’s friendship is tested, Clara must decide whether her passion to help people goes beyond her own personal suffering. While on a mission to complete a promise, Clara meets Mattie and they become friends who have a bonded purpose in life. Through heartache each provides healing to others with their quilt. After the war, Clara returns to the United States and tries to live a normal life. In an effort to hide behind work and her own inability to forgive, she ignores the romantic initiations of a young man in town. Through persistence, love finds her and through tragedy, Clara finds the family she has always wanted. A Promise in Pieces gives the reader the chance to walk through Clara’s life. It is a wonderful story about family, friendship and forgiveness. Definitely a must read! I received this book from the Book Club Network in exchange for my honest opinion.
A Promise in Pieces by is a fantastic addition to the Quilts of Love series, the first published book by Emily Wierenga. Her beautiful, descriptive prose is amazing; the feelings and actions of Clara, the main character, are reflected with a unique and gifted voice. The people that she meets as a young woman are not by chance; they are ordained by a loving God – each piece designed by His gracious hand in a quilt-life all of her own. The book opens with Clara, now a grandmother, travelling to New Orleans with her husband, children, and grandchildren to deliver a quilt that is tucked into the back of the van she rides in. Her grandson, Noah, is eager to hear more about her life and she reminisces with startling clarity about her childhood, what led her to her calling and how it changed the direction and quality not only of her life, but the lives of countless others. Clara became a nurse as her namesake, Clara Barton, had been, and she served with the Women’s Army Corp in Europe during WWII. Gareth, one of the young men she cared for during his final hours only need was for her to write a letter to his wife back home, and to deliver that letter one day to her when she returned to the States. Clara did go to meet Mattie, his widow, after the war ended and she returned from. Clara gave Mattie the gift of Gareth’s final words of love and received something that would change the course of her life – a lovingly designed quilt. The quilt would have been for the child that Mattie and Gareth had planned to have when the war was over. How will Clara, who didn’t plan to ever marry, use this quilt over the next fifty years to help countless others? How did this bring Clara and Mattie together? Clara’s struggles are no different than ours – what to do when one’s faith is gone? How to recover from deep wounds that brought self-doubt and self-condemnation? What to do with the rest of one’s life? How to trade in guilt and the insatiable need to earn grace for the free gift of God’s love and salvation? Keep tissues on hand as you experience Clara’s life and see through her eyes the value of faith, family, and ministry. This novel can be entertaining as well as share deeper spiritual values that can resonate in one’s heart long after discovering A Promise in Pieces. Favorite Quotes: “And funny how just as you begin to settle, you’re made aware of someone’s needs. And you’re kept always alive, serving each other.” “… so well, in fact that we were lacking nothing, and this, I felt indicated a problem. Because we had no reason to need God anymore.” “I hope you can know how it feels to be free, you know, of everything except happiness. To know while nothing makes sense and everything is in upheaval, you are exactly in the center of God’s will.” “She kept walking as though praying with her feet…” This outstanding book can be enjoyed by young adults as well as adults of any age who enjoy the Quilts of Love series, quilting, or quality Christian fiction. I received a copy of this book through the “For Readers Only” group at The Book Club Network, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own, and no monetary compensation was received for this review.
I will admit I do not read fiction very often. But every once in a while, I find myself wanting to get lost in a story, engrossed in the lives and events of others. I have been enjoying the blog of Emily T. Wierenga for some time. So when I heard she had written a novel, I did not hesitate to pre-order it. “A Promise in Pieces” was a wonderful and heartwarming story covering a span of fifty years in the life of Clara, a nurse during WWII. It is a story of family dynamics, heartbreak and love, loneliness and friendships, purpose and destiny. I found myself drawn to each of the characters, loving them and wanting them to find the happiness they longed for with each other. Emily weaves the events so emotionally rich. She brought a deeper understanding and appreciation of a war which occurred before my lifetime. Emily unfolds a picture of the pain and horrors of war through the thoughts of Clara, who cares for the injured viewing them as “someone’s baby who once laughed and gurgled and rolled.” (page 41) We come to understand there is a godly balance between both love and justice. We discover that trust truly is “learned and practiced in the moment” (page 61). Perhaps only moment by moment. Clara’s desire, to bring a home made quilt to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, takes her on a trip which includes each member of her family. “A Promise in Pierces” is the story of this special quilt. We come to gain a beautiful picture of life through the insights Clara shares about her quilt and her own life … I could see the pieces of the quilt forming; the patches of my life, all there, and God sewing them together with tender threads. (page 124) This is a story of hope, the chance to do life again, to do it over. It is a story of love and forgiveness. And of coming full circle. This is the story about Oliver as much as it is of Clara. Oliver, a quiet sort of a man, who teaches us it is possible to be “quiet and yet love the Lord with a loud kind of love”. In fact, Oliver will challenge us to become just this very sort of person. This was a book I did not want to come to finish as I did not want to close the cover on each of its characters. It was a book which brought comfort and promise through each page demonstrating that in spite of the messes we seem to create, each of us will leave a mark on this world. I highly recommend this book to you for your own reading pleasure. I purchased this book for myself and am sharing a review because it is a story which should be shared. I loved reading this book and so will you!
Emily Is a heartfelt writer who uses her lovely gift of art from God. Her book just came out called " A Promise in Pieces" I just started reading her book, and I fell in love with it already. Once You start reading this, It is so hard to put down. Pick up a copy, I know once You start reading it, It is so hard to lay it down.
Often times we look back on our life by the time we are old and wonder if anything we have done has meant anything. Has our life created a legacy that shows where we have walked and left footprints on the hearts of those around us? Clara Kirkpatrick has always wondered if God was calling her to something more, something greater. She found it on the cusp of World War II when she ran away from home to become a nurse. Her parents didn't want her to go, and she lied to them about signing up. But in her heart, she felt God was pulling her in that direction. To give something more of herself than simply growing up as a preacher's daughter. She never dreamed she would break their hearts. Yet she found her true calling. Something that would connect her life forever through the threads she would weave in the lives of the people she touched. That was the day she met Gareth, a wounded man she met as a nurse who showed her how you could combine a love for God and still serve in the war. Knowing there was little more she could do for him, than offer to hold his hand, since his injuries were life threatening and being without pain meds, she offered comfort in his final moments. His last request was a letter to his wife, and a promise that Clara would deliver his final declarations of love in person to Mattie. It was a promise she would keep. It was one of the most difficult times in her life when the war was finally over, giving that letter to Mattie in person. She could understand it if she would refuse to talk to her, but Mattie had a true heart after God. After reading the letter, Mattie gave her a quilt she had made hoping that one day her and Gareth might begin a family. Now that he was dead, she knew in her heart she could never marry and with that the promise of children with Gareth would never be fulfilled. Since Clara was a nurse she asked Mattie if she might stitch the names of the children who had been lost in the war or as a result of childbirth into the quilt to remember them and to also pray for those children who would now grow up without a father. It would be Clara's legacy and promise that she too, would never marry for fear that death would rob her of love. But God had other plans in store for Clara, one that would take her life farther than she would ever dream and create something that began with a promise and restore all those broken pieces in her life to something of beauty to be passed on to her family. This is Clara's story and one that will impact your life as well as it did hers . I received A Promise in Pieces by Emily T. Wierenga compliments of Abingdon Press and Litfuse Publicity for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions are strictly my own. This was such a beautiful story of a servant's life, Clara's life and how God can use the broken places in our own lives to restore us and create something true beautiful with them. We will be able to look back and see how God took those messes in our life and we make marks by moving forward in those dark times. We might not see it until we turn around and look back, but it's there. For those that love WWII as your backdrop coupled with a beautiful story of love and redemption than this is the perfect book for you. As an addition to the Quilts of Love series, this book doesn't have to be read in order but as a stand alone, but trust me, if you love quilts and the stories they hold, you'll want to pick up all of them.I easily give this one a 5 out of 5 stars. It has found a permanent place in my bookshelf with the rest!
Every book in the Quilts of Love series includes a quilt in one way or another, but A Promise in Pieces is pieced together much like a quilt itself. While stitching the past together with the present, Emily Wierenga shares the inspiring story of Clara Kirkpatrick, a former nurse in the Women's Army Corp during WWII. At the end of the war, Clara sets out to make good on a promise she made to a dying soldier - conveying his love to his wife, Mattie. Upon their meeting Mattie gives Clara a baby quilt, one that she knows she will no longer have any need of, and Clara promises to use it to honor Mattie's sacrifice. When she returns to her hometown Clara takes on a job as a labor and delivery nurse and finds a beautiful way to honor that sacrifice. She swaddles each baby she delivers in the quilt and later, stitches their name and an inspiring word about them onto it. Later she honors the sacrifice even further when she and Mattie start a foundation for families of soldiers KIA, selecting a number a families each year to visit and then add their loved one's name to the quilt. The story of Clara's past is woven in with the present, she and her entire family are on their way to donate the quilt to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. Clara's grandson begs to hear more of her story and that of the quilt, she obliges and gets lost in the retelling. It makes the long drive much more enjoyable and memorable. Just when the family is almost to New Orleans, tragedy strikes and they wonder if they'll make it in time to get the quilt donated. The way the past and the present are intertwined in this book is awesome, it was easy to picture a grandmother losing herself in telling her story to her grandson. It was just as easy to picture a grandson so wrapped up and inspired by the story that he stops at nothing to make his grandmother's dream a reality. Even though the part of the story that is in the present only takes place in the car, the author does a great job of engaging the reader, mainly by how the characters relate to one another. The part of the novel that takes place in the past is a beautiful story of honor and respect - one that kept me turning pages well past my bedtime after finding myself completely lost in Clara's story. Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for this review. All thoughts are my own.
A Promise In Pieces Quilts of Love by Emily T. Wierenga This book starts out with a section called War and it's the present day and the grandparents are in the car with the grandkids as they drive around the battlefields in the DC area. Then it talks of the war and hardship and what Clara Wilson and others had done themselves to support the country. Another section is entitled Peace and again it starts out in the present time then back to the past to help you understand. The bible plays a large part in the story. Forgiveness, faith in God and friendship. This is the section she returns home after delivering a letter to a widow of a dying soldier that was in her care. She also returns to her home. Love how the quilt comes into play in this book and what it all signifies and the bigger project. Loved hearing of the journey and their lifes along the way. Easy to keep track of the characters. I received this book from Net Galley via Abingdon Press in exchange for my honest review.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. -Ephesians 2:9-11 I don't think I've ever read a book that illustrated this verse so well! Clara and her family travel to the World War II Museum to deliver an important artifact. But more important than any treasure is the story she shares on the way. A Promise in Pieces amazed me in so many ways, especially weaving together a present-day story with one from the 1940s, and, in the midst of lump-in-the-throat sadness, imparting such hope. We really are God's handiwork, and I pray I'll be able to do His work as well as Clara did!