In her first novel, Home Another Way, Christa Parrish understands that there is much more to events in life than what seems to be playing out on the surface. Her main character, Sarah Graham, finds herself in Jonah, New York, ready to hear the reading of her estranged father’s will. When she finds out she must live in her father’s house in Jonah for at least six months in order to receive her inheritance, her hatred and anger for her father explode. Nevertheless, she agrees. During her time in Jonah, though, she happens upon several secrets and, in time, their truths are revealed to her, including one that will leave her with several new questions about her background and her father.
The book’s plot is well structured, with circumstances and events that could very well happen in a town of Jonah’s size. The characters have very good relationships, and even the more hostile relationships are realistic and believable, even if a bit uncomfortable at times. The most intense and unforgettable experience comes toward the end of the book, when Sarah finds out the truth about her father and about her mother’s murder. The author did such an amazing job at relaying the character’s emotions that I could completely relate to Sarah in this moment of truth.
Besides the fact that Sarah has to live in Jonah for six months before she can get her father’s money, there are many secrets to be revealed, and almost each character has one. One dilemma that develops unexpectedly for Sarah is a developing love for Jack Watson, the town’s pastor. Each of their pasts includes an ex-lover, which neither knows about, but which hinders the development of their current relationship. Sarah knows that her feelings toward Jack will weigh heavily on her choice to stay or leave Jonah after her six months.
Because of Sarah’s fierce independence, she often drives people away from her, even though she is screaming on the inside for them to make her their friend. Sarah even pushes God away. One passage of scripture that was focused on in the book was the love lesson found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Love is the one thing that Sarah Graham needs to work on before she can ever have a relationship with Jack Watson or any new friends.
There is a lot of symbolism in the story. For example, the name of the town symbolized Sarah and how she ended up “in the belly of the whale” because she was running away from life. Other names and objects also serve as symbols for the underlying message of the story.
I truly enjoyed this book! I could immediately relate to the main character, especially in her emotions for her father. It did, however, leave me wanting more at the end. I thought, There has to be a sequel! This is because the book’s ending offers some logical but unexpected big surprises. Some key contemporary issues, ranging from pre-marital sex to family disintegration, are faced in a biblical way in this book. I would definitely recommend this book to any church library and to anyone who may be struggling with unforgiveness, love, or escaping one’s past. -- Mindy T. Kreilein, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
Sarah Graham is living life hard and fast—and she is flat broke. When her estranged father dies, she travels to the tiny mountain hamlet of Jonah, New York, to claim her inheritance. Once there, however, she learns that her plans for the future—and her memories of the past—are about to change forever.
Christa Parrish's debut novel is a captivating story of a broken, isolated woman and the flawed, faithful people who help her forgive and find peace.