The pages of The Good Nearby by Nancy Moser are filled with conflict and intriguing characters. Margery wants to be treated with respect and loved by her husband, but her greatest longing is to have a child. She believes that is what she was born to do. Angie wants to be unconditionally loved by her husband, whose need to control her at times is suffocating and maddening. She longs for peace, and to be free to make her own choices. Gladys is losing her sight. She desperately needs to give and receive love, but she has always been strong and self-sufficient. For her, to soften and let someone into her heart is perceived as weak, something she refuses to be.
Gennifer is a successful attorney with a health condition so shameful to her that she won't even tell her husband or daughter. Her emotional withdrawal pushes her husband toward another woman, and her daughter toward a female mentor, thus sending Gennifer's core relationships into a crisis mode. But for Gennifer to admit her need for support is too painful, so she holds back and suffers alone, until God grabs a hold of her heart. Talia's husband is going to die if he doesn't get a heart transplant. So not only does Talia have to take care of her two-year-old and her husband, but she has to keep the house in order, cook, work full-time to pay the bills, and to top all that, she's seven months pregnant. She longs for rest, to feel desired and wanted. Her boss distracts her when he pays her the kind of attention her husband used to lavish on her. She longs for her Christian husband to be well, to take back control of the finances, and to have a love life again. But she refuses to ask God to help her until she feels him slipping away.
And finally there is Gigi, the lost and abandoned child who is a very quirky character. Readers see the story through her eyes, and I loved her. She's obsessed with the number 96 and thinks anything connected with that number is lucky. She also is enthralled with the idea of death because her grandmother, who taught her about faith, said she looked forward to dying in order to be with the Lord. Gigi is told by her grandmother before her death that Gigi will be the good nearby if she lets God work in her life. As Gigi grows up, she struggles to survive emotionally, and forgets some of the things she learned as a young girl from her grandmother, the only person who had genuinely loved her. God brings those memories back as she goes through hard times. He redeems her pain for His glory.
The Good Nearby moved me to tears. Of joy, that is. It's a poignant illustration of how God takes our pain and makes beauty from the ashes of our lives. The author beautifully illustrates her characters’ struggles in a way that makes you want to encourage them rather than slap them senseless. You see their history and exactly what led them to the place they were at in life. You also see what had to happen in their lives for God to reach their hearts. And of course, not everyone is reached. But that's real life. – Michelle Sutton, Christian Book Previews.com
“You’re going to do something important someday. It may not change the entire world, but it’ll change the world of the people around you.”
In a small town, it can be hard to imagine that your life will ever amount to much. Gigi’s grandmother believes God will give Gigi the chance to do something special. And although she’s just a little girl, Gigi believes it too.
The ambitions of the Neighbor’s Drugstore patrons aren’t as lofty; they’re just trying to survive another day. Margery has a nothing job, a nothing marriage, and zero self-esteem. Angie has everything she could ever want except the freedom to make her own decisions. Talia is overwhelmed with a full-time job, a toddler, and a seriously ill husband. Gennifer has a high-powered career and a family that’s learned to fend without her. Gladys is approaching her golden years alone and with failing eyesight.
Yet the key to a rich, fulfilled life is closer than they think, if only they will open their eyes and hearts to the good nearby.