I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by CelebrateLit. I was not compensated for this review and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.Almond Street Mission by June Foster
Published by Winged Publications on September 14th 2016
Genres: Christian, Contemporary, Romance
When a homeless man rescues Glorilyn from a violent assault, he's not the man he seems. What powerful secret keeps him on the streets?
When Glorilyn Neilson's nineteen-year-old brother, Tannon, goes missing without a trace, she's frantic. Prayer and volunteering at the local homeless shelter in El Camino must fill the time until her sibling returns. But her sapphire eyes and auburn hair inadvertently cause a stir among the male population at the center. Her life changes one evening when she's attacked by a burly vagrant intent on rape in the alley behind the building.
Jeremiah Goodman loves the Lord, but he's homeless. When he witnesses a foul-mouthed vagrant overpowering one of the volunteers at the homeless shelter, he defends her, saving her from unwanted advances.
When Glorilyn offers him a way of escape from his impoverished lifestyle, he can't tell her why he must live the life of a vagrant. What powerful secret keeps him on the streets?
I really wanted to love this book. The synopsis drew me into something that I thought would be a heart-wrenching story of faith and glory and hope. I wanted a book of hope with a snag of mystery with the missing brother. I wanted a book of faith with the Mission and the men it served. I wanted some intrigue with the romance between Glorilyn and Jer. I got some of those things but not enough to make up for the thing I didn’t get.
Let’s talk about those things. I fell like this book assumed that certain things were known. Back stories, hidden story lines, relationships, to some degree even faith but we’ll address that later. Without giving spoilers, let’s just say that the hints I took for Jer’s real story was not what it ended up being. The back story and relationship between Glorilyn and her friend Lori. The center director and his wife were awkward without their story or even their intention within the book. Along those same lines, what I would call bombshell revelations were dropped as if they were an ice-cube on the floor. It’ll make a puddle but you don’t have to worry about cutting your feet kind of thing. They were so ‘not feet cutting’ that I felt like they were just a distraction. It would have made sense to not even notice the ice dropped for all the impact it had on the story. This takes me to another pet peeve of mine….wanna guess?
Character development. Easily a huge chunk of what I’m complaining about could be cleared up under this category. I loved these characters but they were flat, like paper dolls with interchangeable parts. I missed out on complex emotions and interactions. Even their thought processes were one-dimensional. They were either ‘happy happy joy joy Jesus fixes literally everything and once you have him life is rose-y’ or they were doom and gloom and never good enough and strung on on alcohol or drugs or self-pity or anger or any of the other speed bumps that can throw a person’s life completely off track. Rarely was there an in-between. Rarely was there faith with struggle. Faith without struggle is the antithesis of what faith is. Faith carries you through, it doesn’t eliminate. Faith isn’t a beam of light that makes you look and feel and act and think differently. You don’t stumble into faith, pick up the Bible, and just read away. Raised with faith I still struggle with this when things are hard. From conversations with others, that’s more the norm. Faith isn’t a quick fix. Faith isn’t without struggle. I feel like this book gives that impression.
I did like the premise of this book. It’s not a negative fest over here, I promise. I’ve struggled to write this review because I needed to get that off my chest. One last thing I didn’t mention above. Editing. It could have used one more fine tooth comb over. Misplaced punctuation marks, weird wording and even some formatting inconsistencies. I do have a favorite miss though that brought a giggle. “When I needed healing from guilt, you made me realize how God valuables me.” It fits. It’s weird and awkward and needs to be edited out, but it works too. This book does have a very valuable audience out there that will love and cherish it. I’m saddened that I don’t feel like that audience includes me. I have enough respect for the story and interest in where it could lead that I’ll definitely read the author again however.