Saturday, March 31, 2018

"Loving Isaac" by Heather Kaufman

I'm finally coming out of my book hangover from this book.  Four days of book hangover -- that's how powerful Loving Isaac is.

Single mom Hana moves in with her sister Kara's family in Oklahoma, bringing with her an autistic son named Isaac and a wagonload of emotional baggage.  She makes new friends, rekindles her relationship with her sister, and begins to find hope for her future.  She also starts attending church for the first time in years and finds healing and friendship there as well.  Plus, she finally opens her heart to the possibility of falling in love again after enduring a lot of abuse and pain for a long time at the hands of her now-ex-husband.

This was not an easy book to read, for me.  I stopped after almost every chapter just to absorb what had happened and adjust my emotions before reading the next one.  When I finished the penultimate chapter, I put the book down and told Cowboy, "If the last chapter isn't awesome, I'm going to throw this book in the recycling bin because it has shredded my heart like a used Kleenex." 

Happily, the very last chapter is very wonderful, so this will be living on my shelf next to Kaufman's first novel, The Story People, rather than being consigned to the recycling bin.  Whew.

Heather Kaufman has an amazing way with words, weaving them into a world that feels very real, in good ways and bad.  I saw a lot of myself in characters in this book, which was both reassuring and a good wake-up call to avoid some behavior I've lapsed into.  Behavior like always talking to the people I already know at church.  Just because I'm shy doesn't mean I can't be kind and welcome new people.  Time to work on that.

Particularly Good Bits:

Kara's was a prettily packaged life, the kind with ribbons and a bow that catches your eye.  Hana's was a banged and dented UPS box left on the wrong doorstep (p. 21).

People, she realized once again, were surprising.  Sometimes that ended in tragedy.  And sometimes that ended in hope (p. 227).

Self-reliance was completely counter to the dependent Christian life.  This thought was both humbling and such a very great relief (p. 236).

(From my Instagram)

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It: PG-13 for flashback scenes of physical and emotional abuse.  Those were very tense and hard to read, and I think they might scar younger readers.


  1. Really good review! I read a preview chapter of this book a while back, and really want to read it in full sometime. I know I was really grateful when people at my new church went out of their wa to talk to me. Now I'm only seven months in, and have already fallen into talking to pretty much the same people every Sunday. Good reminder to broaden my fellowship horizons!

    1. Abby, I read that preview chapter too when CPH put it up -- definitely whetted my interest :-)

      It's so easy to slip into comfortable routines, isn't it? And they're not bad, but also something we need to step outside sometimes. I only managed to say hello to one stranger yesterday at church, sigh.


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