Orchard of Hope, sequel to Scent of Lilacs by Ann H. Gabhart, draws the stories of several characters together through their connections with David Brooke. Gabhart uses themes of triumph over adversity, personal impact on the world, and strength of community to emphasize the message within Orchard of Hope.
David, pastor of Mt. Pleasant Church, editor of the Hollyhill Banner newspaper, and active father of Jocie, is a busy man. His older daughter, Tabitha, returns home pregnant and unwed after a long period of estrangement. Then his main employee at the paper, Wes, is seriously injured in the tornado that destroyed Mt. Pleasant Church's building. And he is also romantically involved with Leigh, a beautiful woman from his congregation. Among his concerns are rebuilding the church after the trauma of the tornado, tending to Wes in his time of need, caring for both of his daughters as a single parent, and maintaining his relationship with Leigh; David is also forced to draw on his strong faith to deal with the issue of racial acceptance. Set in 1964 at the height of the Civil Rights movement and school integration legislation, Orchard of Hope becomes the stage for Mt. Pleasant's reaction to the arrival of the Hearndons – the church's first black congregants.
No character in this book is perfect; each has his or her own flaws and difficult things to work through. However, Gabhart has provided many good examples of right conduct within her novel. Orchard of Hope is, first and foremost, a book about relationships. If the idea of a slow-paced, relationally-based book that deals with universal topics appeals to you, look no further. – Meg D. R. Tepfer, Christian Book Previews.com
An inspirational story of family love set during the humid summer of 1964.
On the surface, Hollyhill, Kentucky, seems to be well insulated from the turbulent world beyond its quiet streets. Life-changing events rarely happen here, and when they do, they are few and far between. But for Jocie Brooke and her family, they happen all at once.
Jocie's father, David, is a pillar of the community. But deep inside, he silently struggles with his broken marriage and the challenge of raising a teenage daughter on his own. Then there's Aunt Love, who's trying to forget her hurtful past by hiding behind black dresses and a stern facade. Even Wes, the newspaper pressman, avoids any inquiries about the road he's traveled.
But for Jocie, there are questions that need answers. As she digs into her family's past, she finds a whirlwind of discoveries, and everything begins to change. In the end, will Jocie find the answers everyone so desperately needs, or will her questions lead to truths that were better left uncovered?