by Emily Conrad


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781522300762
Publisher: Pelican Book Group
Publication date: 09/01/2018
Pages: 312
Sales rank: 1,284,487
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Emily Conrad lives in Wisconsin with her husband and two rescue dogs. She loves Jesus and enjoys summer road trips to the mountains.

Read an Excerpt


Snow floated onto Main Street, each flake large enough to catch the breeze like a parachute. A miniature army, launching a surprise invasion on March first. If it kept up, Jake would have to clear the sidewalk. As it was, customers had tracked in enough to leave a puddle trail across the hardwood floor.

He hefted the tray of dishes he'd gathered from Hillside Coffee's tables and headed for the back. The bells on the side entrance jingled, announcing at least one more North Adams resident needing a coffee to warm his or her hands.

Carrie, the manager Jake had scheduled for the morning, stepped toward the register.

As he slid the tray onto the workspace next to the sink, the silverware rattled against the stack of mugs. The scent of detergent rose, but the machine was silent now. The kid on dish duty, Ronny, was nowhere to be seen. As usual.

Carrie stuck her head around the corner. "Brooklyn's here to see you."

His stomach flopped. Amazing he'd known Brooklyn since fifth grade, yet she had that effect on him. He'd track down Ronny later.

Brooklyn Merrill stood at the end of the sales counter as if she had been about to come back to find him. She held a hat in one hand while she used the other to smooth her blonde hair. Since her business trip two months ago, she'd worn her long locks up without exception. Every time he saw her, he had to fight off the thought of kissing that spot between her spine and her ear, where her hair was soft and new. Someday, he'd coax her into giving love a chance. For sanity's sake, he had to.

He cleared his throat. "Took the day off?" Brooklyn's mouth pulled into a tight grimace. For two months, sadness had infused her expression whenever she didn't seem to think he'd notice, but this was the first time she'd failed to tuck it away when he was obviously watching.

This could be the answer to his prayer that she would open up again. He led her a few steps away to a space by the display shelves. "You want to talk?" A collection of tears glittered in her eyes. "I haven't been as good as I've been acting."

He would wrap her in the hug of her life, but their friendship rarely crossed the border of touch. He tried a gentle smile instead. "That's a problem. Because you haven't been acting very good."

A laugh caught in her throat.

He put his hand on her shoulder and guided her to the rear corner of the first floor, where she could sit with her back to everyone.

Even wrapped in privacy, she stared toward the wall and picked at her fingernails. "I planned what to say to you." Her voice quieted. "But I don't think I can do it."

His relief morphed into dread. What could be this bad? Father, don't let me mess this up. "Just tell me the script. What'd you plan to say?" "I need a ride to a doctor's appointment." She spoke in a flat tone.

He wanted to play along and say his lines, too, but all this over an illness? If she'd been sick since her mood froze over in January and couldn't drive herself, it was serious. His dad's problems had started this way — an appointment followed by a cancer diagnosis, months of treatment and supposed remission, and, finally, a funeral.

Brooklyn searched his eyes, tense sadness weighing down her features.

He kept his gaze trained on her beautiful, worried face. Maybe this appointment was something simple. He had to believe it, or he couldn't ask. "What kind of appointment?"

Brooklyn swallowed, neck ridged. "I'm three weeks late."

"To the appointment?"

"My body. My body is three weeks late."

"Your body ..." Then it hit him. She thinks she's pregnant. How had he not understood sooner?

"I took a test, but maybe it was wrong."

She'd changed on that business trip. An image thundered to mind, and he willed it away. But the question remained. "You and Caleb?"

"It's not like you think, Jake."

"No kidding."

She taught Sunday school. She had worn a promise ring for years, but her finger was bare now. Caleb went on the New Wilshire trip knowing how Jake felt about Brooklyn, knowing he'd ended his last relationship to pursue her. Would Caleb have slept with her anyway?

"I can explain. There's not enough time right now, but I will explain."

He clenched his fist under the table. "I'm sure you could summarize." After all those years of pushing him away with the claim she'd never marry, never fall in love, she'd let someone else in. If it was just Jake she hadn't wanted all this time, she could've saved him years of trouble by being honest. "It's none of my business." He started away.

"Jake, please."

He turned back.

"I can't face this alone anymore." Her grip on the table turned her fingertips white.

The day Dad had died, when Jake reached home from the hospital, he'd found her waiting in the driveway. He and his mom had been together the whole time, but as soon as he held Brooklyn in his arms, he felt a million times less alone. Later, when losing Dad prompted him to question God, it had been Brooklyn who stood by him, her unshakable faith drawing him back to faith of his own. She may have brought this on herself, but he owed her company in her darkest hour. "Fine. When's the appointment?"

"I sat in the parking lot for half an hour before I worked up the nerve to come in."

He crossed his arms.


He checked his watch. "Fifteen minutes?"

She nodded, sighed, and stood. "I was going to talk to you sooner."

He trusted his managers, and he could leave with little to no warning. As he led the way to the door, he braced for snowflakes. Since he lived in the apartment above the shop and had no plans to go out, he'd worn short sleeves, and there wasn't time to run up for something warmer.

As they walked to the car, his peripheral vision caught the line of Brooklyn's dipped chin and the slant of her downcast eyes. He was failing her. He put an arm around her shoulders but felt no warmth when she leaned into him.

* * *

The seat Jake chose in the waiting area faced the door the nurse had led Brooklyn through.

She and Caleb were in the same place in life as Jake — hitting a stride in their careers, getting established. What would they do with a baby? Do they really deserve this, God?

One or the other would have to move if they were to be a family. If she relocated to Madison, where Caleb lived, Jake would lose touch with her. If Caleb came to North Adams, Jake would have a front row seat as the love of his life and his best friend played house.

He leaned forward in his seat. Please, God, let there be some other explanation. He was no expert. Maybe three weeks wasn't that significant. Please, God, give her another chance. And show me what to do. I thought she was the one. No one else's smile could light him up like hers, and no one else's problems made him wish he could change the world like hers. If only he could change it now. He stared at the speckled carpet, wishing for answers, but no Bible verses, no advice from his parents, and certainly no voice from God spoke to him.

Twenty minutes passed.


He sat up.

Robyn Washburn took a seat. "What brings you here? Not sick, I hope." She was the wife of one of his church's elders. Everyone might have sin and secrets, but he didn't know any of Robyn's. How would her expression change if she knew why he was here?

"A friend needed a ride."

Caleb and Brooklyn had never shown signs of falling for each other. However, they'd stayed in the same hotel. No wonder the coward had feigned ignorance when Jake asked what could've changed Brooklyn on the New Wilshire trip.

Jake stretched his fingers. "How's the new car treating you?"

"Henry can't get over how I always get better mileage than he does. I keep telling him he needs to ease off the gas, but he just persists and then complains." She chuckled. "If he would slow down, it might save him a speeding ticket or three."

"You could get him a motorized scooter. They're slower and have great mileage."

"Oh, can you imagine?" She laughed again. Whatever her reason for visiting a doctor, it had to be routine.

The door opened, and Brooklyn ducked through. The only mascara left on her face was a faint smudge below one of her eyes. That could only mean one thing: she was pregnant.

She took an uncertain step toward him. He wrapped her in his arms, but even so, she'd never been further out of his reach.

"I can't do this," she said against his shoulder.

"You can." He leaned his head to look at her face. Her closed eyes seeped tears. "We'll do it together."

Liar. He couldn't help her with a baby. That job belonged to Caleb. Yet, he had the sense that the promise answered his prayer. It was God's direction for how he should proceed. How do You figure I can help her?

She scrunched her eyes tighter, and he placed a hand on the back of her head as she collected herself. When she stepped away, her gaze focused behind him, and her face reddened. "Can we go?" Robyn stared at them, forehead furrowed.

Jake lifted a hand in a wave and turned toward the door.

Brooklyn followed him out to the car and buckled herself in. "I don't want people talking."

At this point, gossip was unavoidable. The time to worry about appearances was already weeks behind them. He started the engine and navigated to the road.

She gasped like they'd had a close call with another car, but the road was clear of everything but cottony snow. "I can't do this, Jake. I never planned to get married, let alone have kids all by myself."

"You're not alone." She had God if she wanted him. Or Caleb. He wouldn't turn his back on his own kid. Then again, Jake hadn't expected him to make a move on Brooklyn either. He and Caleb had been friends since high school football. That should've counted for something.

She remained silent.

Despite everything, he couldn't stand to see her cry, so he kept his eyes on the road.

She dug through the glove compartment for a napkin, which she pressed to her face. "The doctor said the baby is the size of a BB pellet. A bullet. Who compares a baby to a bullet?"

News that the baby already took up space was at the edge of his ability to grasp, but a bullet comparison was the most sense she had made all day.

"You're angry," she said.

A black SUV pulled out of a parking lot, and he slammed the brakes to avoid it. The car slid a couple of inches before the tires gripped. He ground his teeth. Anything he said would betray just how right she was, and she hurt enough without him piling on more wounds. As he parked in his spot behind Hillside, his phone went off. He took it from his pocket and answered.

"I think I messed up." Devin, one of the youth group boys Jake mentored, rarely bothered to introduce himself.

Join the club. Jake rubbed his hand over his eyes. "Why's that?"

"Do you have time? We could meet up?"

This had to be about Lauren, Devin's girlfriend. Or something could've happened with the kid's alcoholic parents. Or school. Jake took his keys from the ignition but didn't open his door.

Brooklyn sat still and quiet, probably waiting to say good-bye.

"Sure. Let me wrap up what I'm working on. We can grab lunch in about an hour."

"Who's buying?"

"Who always buys? I'll text you when I'm headed over." Jake pocketed the phone before turning his attention back to Brooklyn.

She collected her purse and tugged her coat zipper up to her throat. "I should get to work. I'll need the time off later in the year." The door clunked open.

"Let me know if you need anything."

She must've picked up on his hesitance because she nodded once and got out without another word.

You're a terrible friend, Jake.

He couldn't imagine doing better. Not when the woman he'd hoped to someday marry was carrying someone else's child. God, what do I do now?


Jake headed toward his apartment, his Bible, and some peace and quiet.

Two people waited at the counter with only Carrie there to serve them because, of course, Ronny was missing. Jake could go help, but why have staff if they couldn't handle making drinks?

"Good morning, Madame Durand. I haven't seen you in weeks."

The words halted Jake. Only Harold, owner of the bookstore across the street, would speak that way. Jake altered his course and stepped behind the counter, where Harold lingered next to Rachel Durand, one of Hillside's regulars.

With her back to the customers as she pumped syrup into Rachel's drink, Carrie raised her eyebrows and frowned in exasperation. She was one of the two employees Harold had reduced to tears on past visits.

The flush on Rachel Durand's cheeks signaled she wasn't immune to Harold's bullying either.

"When I was raising my boy, I made sure he read a book a week. That's how he got into —"

"Harold." Jake planted his palms on the counter.

"Slow day over at the store?"

That his business might be lagging was a calculated blow to his pride. If it didn't send him packing, Jake would ask how he ended up estranged from the son he acted so proud of. No. That would be letting Harold get the best of him. Love your neighbor. Even today.

Harold slowly pivoted. "Mr. Davidson."

"That's Monsieur Davidson to you."

A laugh escaped Rachel Durand. She took her drink from Carrie and hurried off to a second-floor table.

At least he'd kept Harold from alienating one customer from Hillside.

"I came to check out the competition." Harold's voice boomed like his belly was an amplifier.

"Competition?" Their businesses couldn't have been more complementary. Though snow obscured the view of the glass and metal building now, Harold's Books stood on the corner across the street. When the bookstore had a signing, Harold's customers would visit Hillside for a latte before heading home. Jake's customers crossed the street and bought novels to enjoy with their coffee on Hillside's couches. "You're breaking into the coffee business?"

"Only seems fair if you're going to sell books." Harold's volume drew glances from customers.

Jake reviewed his shop for something that could've offended the man. Among the coffee and tea items, Jake stocked locally-made goods — caramel corn, soap, little clay dogs. A small gift book tucked in among the other products snagged his attention. There were three different books, mostly filled with pictures. "You're over here because of a frog book?"

"We had a gentlemen's agreement. A symbiotic relationship." Harold enunciated each syllable as if Jake needed to hear it slowly to understand.

He came out from behind the counter. "We have no agreements, Harold. Last I heard, making a deal to not compete is still illegal."

Harold's gray eyes narrowed.

"Besides. This? Over gift books? You've got three stories of books in a million-dollar building across the street."

Harold had demolished an historic bank building to erect the modern bookstore, something the city had allowed because of the pull of Harold's brother, the mayor. Bringing it up helped draw them closer to the windows and the main exit.

"Then you know I can't agree, either." The man finally hushed his voice. "Keep selling books, and I'll put in a coffee shop."

"I'll keep stocking them as long as customers keep buying them."

"Your father would call that downright stupid." Harold tugged on his belt, his puffed-up chest no match for the size of his belly.

"Next time I see him, I'll talk it over with him."

Harold lifted his hands, and his voice rose again as he pushed open the door. "Can't say I didn't warn you."

Jake stepped onto the mezzanine along the Main Street windows. Harold wasn't alone in the crosswalk. Vanessa, Hillside's best manager, approached from the opposite direction. From the looks of it, she chirped a greeting to Harold.

Just after they passed each other, Harold waved his hand as if to swat down pleasantries.

Vanessa swung open the shop door and stomped the snow off her boots. Laughing, she smoothed the snowflakes from her curly brown hair. "That's loathing if I ever saw it." She joined Jake. "Are we glaring at the snow or Harold?"

Jake owed the steady flow of customers during Hillside's first year to curiosity about Harold's construction project. If only the man hadn't proven to be such a difficult neighbor. "He says if I keep selling books, he's putting in a coffee shop."

"Selling books?" Vanessa surveyed the dining room then tossed him a helpless look.

"The gift books."

"Seriously? He wouldn't really open a coffee shop, would he?"

Harold, a business man, had to know there wasn't enough traffic on North Adam's Main Street to support two coffee shops. That would be the allure — the possibility he could starve out Hillside. But was Harold enough of a gambler to risk it?


Excerpted from "Justice"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Emily Conrad.
Excerpted by permission of Pelican Ventures, LLC.
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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Justice 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It’s a great book I enjoyed very much.
Phyllis_H More than 1 year ago
Justice is a great debut novel by Emily Conrad. It comes with a hard-hitting message about the dangers of seeking “justice” and not allowing God to be the one to take care of matters for us. The author led me on a path where I wanted “justice” to be served in the same way Jake did. Jake was a great mix of too-good-to-be-true in the way he cared so deeply for Brooklyn and was so patient and caring towards her and hot-headed and vengeful in the way he wanted to deal with the father of Brooklyn’s baby and with Harold. He was such a great example to the teen boys he worked with of abstinence and living like Jesus up until the events of the story. And yet his heart was not so hard that the lessons the Lord wanted to teach him couldn’t get through. I really admire the way the author was willing to leave several of the mysteries unsolved in the story. Not for the purpose of setting the scene for a sequel, because this story does stand alone, but because some crimes are just never resolved here on earth. Though there are some heavy themes, they are handled very well and in such a way as to not make this a dark or violent book. There is just enough detail about what happened to Brooklyn to explain, but not to make it inappropriate. I will be watching for more books by this author. This review was originally posted on AmongTheReads.net I would like to thank Pelican Book Group for giving me this item. My opinion and review were not influenced by this gift.
joyful334209 More than 1 year ago
Justice was as very hard and very serious for me to go into - the book has real subject matters - serious subject matter that many women go through and many men are going though also and with having to sort of dealing with whether they are aware of it or not but if they are Christians like those in the book. In the book GOD takes care of those involved and HE guides and takes care of the situation on all ends. HE also takes vengeance - like in the Scripture where it says "Vengeance is mine saith the LORD". I would not want to be on the other end of that would you? In this story this goes through a lot more than you know, right now trust me , way more and she has GOD, that is how she is making it through it all - this is one to read if you are into a very serious book. I received a copy of this book from the Publisher and Netgalley; all the opinions expressed in this review are all my own.
joyful334209 More than 1 year ago
Justice was as very hard and very serious for me to go into - the book has real subject matters - serious subject matter that many women go through and many men are going though also and with having to sort of dealing with whether they are aware of it or not but if they are Christians like those in the book. In the book GOD takes care of those involved and HE guides and takes care of the situation on all ends. HE also takes vengeance - like in the Scripture where it says "Vengeance is mine saith the LORD". I would not want to be on the other end of that would you? In this story this goes through a lot more than you know, right now trust me , way more and she has GOD, that is how she is making it through it all - this is one to read if you are into a very serious book. I received a copy of this book from the Publisher and Netgalley; all the opinions expressed in this review are all my own.
NKBookReviewer More than 1 year ago
Author Emily Conrad has penned a page turning, stay up late to read it, wonderful Christian novel. "Justice" was the first I have read by this author and I devoured the 220 page book in one day. I obviously did not want to put it down. The writing style of author Conrad is definitely to my taste. When reading Christian fiction I want at least some mention of God in it and some life lessons, scripture, too. This book was God glorifying and did not shy away from mentioning faith or God. Bravo Ms. Conrad! Her characters were so well defined that we had become friends. I was invested in their trials and triumphs. Each character was well rounded, including having some flaws. They were human and not perfect. I enjoyed the dialog which flowed seamlessly. It never sounded stiff or forced. The descriptions and subjects tackled took me there in the middle of the story. I cried and laughed. Like I said before, I was invested. Jake was a Youth Minister that owned a coffee shop. Brooklyn, his longtime friend and potential love interest, is sexually assaulted and ends up pregnant. The author writes inspirationally how this effects so many people and how many are quick and free to pass judgment. We aren't called to judge. Only God does that. "Justice" tackles real life tough issues that we are quick to ignore but still happen. It makes you ponder "what if" this happened to my loved one or someone I knew. How strong is my faith? Do we really forgive others especially when something horrible happens? It also is a novel of God's love, hope, faith, and trust. God can and does make something good about something bad. I highly recommend this book. It is a wonderful romance but much more. If you are a Christian fiction fan that doesn't mind taking a ride on the emotional roller coaster, for which only a very good author can supply tickets, this book is for you. "Justice" stayed with me for days after reading it. Definitely there are things to think about in this excellent book. I gladly give it 5 out of 5 stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Justice is a heart-wrenching and thought-provoking read. The two main characters—Brooklyn and Jake—are Christian young professionals who each suffer a significant injustice, which challenges their faith and their relationship. Each must choose how they will respond. And that choice defines them. Emily Conrad has crafted characters who are both realistic and relatable. Most of us have experienced an injustice at some point in our lives. And maybe as a result we’ve questioned God’s goodness. Maybe we’ve wondered if He’s punishing us. Maybe we’ve wanted to take matters into our own hands. Are there lines we shouldn’t cross? What lengths will we go to get justice—or is there a better option? Conrad explores those questions and more in her debut novel Justice. I’m looking forward to seeing more works by this talented author.
AngieArndt More than 1 year ago
Emily Conrad's debut novel, set in a coffee shop, is a wake-up call. It's easy to be a Christian when everyone around you follows the same small town norms. But what if someone didn't? What if someone you loved said she was innocent when all the evidence (and gossip) said she wasn't? Would it change the way you felt about her? Would it change the way Christ felt about her? Readers know usually what the heroine knows, but Conrad held back some information until later in the book. As a reader I had to wonder, if I were one of the townspeople, would I be one of the gossips or would I be an example and extend grace? I like it when a book makes me think, but I love it when a book makes me a better person. I hope Justice has done that. Justice is full of surprises, secrets, and suspense, deception, and truth, all wrapped up with a biblical undercurrent. I love spending time with characters who are real and the characters in Conrad's novel are just that. You'll hate to turn that last page.
Lieslmozart More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! I felt like a difficult topic was dealt with in a delicate, realistic way. I became emotionally invested in the characters and didn't want to put the book down. There were some surprises along the way. A very good read! *I received a free copy for review; all opinions are my own.
JerushaA More than 1 year ago
Powerful debut novel from an author to watch! Emily Conrad is a rare gem of a writer. In JUSTICE, she’s able to craft a story that is at once entertaining, heartwarming, and romantic, but also offers an honest, authentic look at real life in the real world. With prose that hints of literary style and thematic depth to match, this tale is rich, nuanced, and unexpected. Best of all, this story shines the hope of God on difficult circumstances. JUSTICE deals with a past sexual assault and the repercussions of that, so some of the story is necessarily dark. But the author threads hope and healing into every step of the heroine’s journey which balances the weightiness of the topic for readers. Emily Conrad has a way of taking me places I may not want to go, but in the end, I’m so glad I went because I am uplifted and changed for the better. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that JUSTICE is about so much more than a woman’s recovery from assault. In fact, that’s not the real center of this story at all. The heart of this vibrant tale is a struggle we can all relate to—Why do bad things happen to good people? Why does it seem that injustice prevails? Through the hero’s and heroine’s journeys, Emily Conrad throws away the easy answers and fabricated excuses to reveal the truth about God’s role in suffering and apparent injustice. The sweet result is redemption, hope, and a beautiful romance like you’ve never read before and will never forget! (I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.)
2017AMW More than 1 year ago
Amazing book, I couldn’t put it down! I enjoyed reading this book and highly recommend it to anyone. This book touches on real life heartbreak and different obstacles we face in this broken world we live in. I was encouraged by the characters faith and definitely challenged some personal things in my life too. Thank you Emily for your dedication to this Novel. I was sucked into the storyline as soon as page one. Excellent descriptions and I could easily follow the story and enjoyed each page immensely. I received a free copy of this book and all my opinions are my own.
2017AMW More than 1 year ago
Amazing book, I couldn’t put it down! I enjoyed reading this book and highly recommend it to anyone. This book touches on real life heartbreak and different obstacles we face in this broken world we live in. I was encouraged by the characters faith and definitely challenged some personal things in my life too. Thank you Emily for your dedication to this Novel. I was sucked into the storyline as soon as page one. Excellent descriptions and I could easily follow the story and enjoyed each page immensely. I received a free copy of this book and all my opinions are my own.
Kelsey Anderson More than 1 year ago
Emily Conrad's debut novel, "Justice" does not disappoint! This book deals with the trials, the messiness, and the injustice reality throws at us, and yet this book inspires and shows how amazing God is and how He can use any situation for His glory. Emily Conrad did a fantastic job at bringing the characters to life, following Brooklyn as she copes and triumphs after a sexual assault. And following Jake as he battles with revenge. The settings, downtown and Jake's coffee shop were all told really well with excellent imagery, making you feel like you were really there. I wish Jake's coffee shop was actually real. :P Yes, this story deals with a sexual assault, which may be a bit difficult for some readers, and I completely understand. But I'm here to assure you that this book does not go into extreme detail of what happened to Brooklyn. The path to forgiveness and healing that both Brooklyn and Jake go on is inspiring and is the main journey of this story. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have said are my own.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I became an Emily Conrad fan when I read a pre-published novel inspired by the Biblical story of Joseph. In fact, if you know me in person, you may have heard me praising it and her writing style. Emily has a way of phrasing and crafting characters that makes me want to prop up my feet and become immersed in her world. So, when I learned she had an earlier story inspired by Mary and Joseph, I had to get my hands on it! Although I've never personally dealt with rape or a resulting pregnancy, I connected with Brooklyn right away. She approaches this difficult circumstance with a deep faith, desire to please God and do the right thing that's inspiring. And Jake's longing for justice, and how he holds to his plans verses Gods was so relatable. I loved how surrendering leads him to true freedom. Exactly what I've found to be true within my own life. The supporting characters added to the overall story-the villain who threatens their happily ever after and the best friend who keeps them both on track. Harold who is modeled after Herod, who persecuted Christians, reminded me again of how some things remain consistent across time and place. That plot line also adds a suspense thread that I adored.
CisnerosCafe More than 1 year ago
This is definitely a book you will want to pick up and cherish for a very long time. It's a great story to share with our teens as well. This book takes on heavy subjects but they are worth it when we look at how lavishly God loves us. Pick up this book and don't delay. You will be all the more filled with promise and hope with it. Thank you to Emily for writing this gem.
LisaLickel0 More than 1 year ago
At the core, this story’s title is the one-word bare truth of each character’s reality. Revenge, payback, responsibility, love, forgiveness, and loss all expose the depth of faith and steer the course toward Justice. Friends from childhood, Jake and Brooklyn can’t seem to figure out what being in love with each other might look like. Their buddies and parents all expected them to marry long since, but Jake and Brooklyn explore relationships with others while they learn to navigate the scary world of responsible adulthood. When the time is finally right for them to move toward each other, crisis inflamed with outside jealousy steps between them. It takes ever-maturing belief to weather the storms, and a lot of help from their friends in an attempt to step back and find the bigger picture. Jake is a driven young man, full of life and faith, overcoming the devastating death of his father and rising above to operate a popular business while making a difference, or trying to, in the lives of young people at church. Jake tries to follow in the footsteps of his bigger-than-life father, as well as fight the good fight of faith and hormones in the teenagers he wants to influence. He just can’t seem to work up the courage to show his longtime female buddy how he feels. Brooklyn is a naïve young woman who tortures herself by living in the shadow of her dysfunctional and cruel mother. She tries to convince herself that she’s not good enough for anyone, especially God, but has the sense to reach out to a wonderful group of women role models and finally, the person she’s leaned on for most of her life, Jake. When everything goes south, it’s grow up or shut up time. Jake falls back on his deep-seated anger while Brooklyn begins to understand the meaning and sacrifice of forgiveness. Watching their journeys crisscross and wander is a delight. Well-done. Most of the side stories are woven beautifully into the thread of the story; the biggest one, that of the business competitor, feels a little like a shiny thread that is rough against the grain. While it’s more realistic to be on the side of the victim and not truly understand the hows of the vengeance-seeking little demagogue, I am left feeling a little puzzled. It’s like the scratchy tag on the inside of your shirt. Jake has some growing-up to do, and his business rival helps him learn, on a lesser scale, the lesson in forgiveness that Brooklyn is teaching him through her own faith expedition. Told through multiple viewpoints, this debut novel is rich in Christian faith portrayal, and not shy about the depth and realities of sin. The characters have great dialog and emotional depth which spoke to me. Those who read deeply inspirational romantic fiction will find much to love about Justice.