Book Review + Author Interview — Healing Love by Jennifer Slattery

26 Jul

A news anchor intern has it all planned out, and love isn’t on the agenda.

Brooke Endress is on the cusp of her lifelong dream when her younger sister persuades her to chaperone a mission trip to El Salvador. Packing enough hand sanitizer and bug spray to single-handedly wipe out malaria, she embarks on what she hopes will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

But Brooke is blindsided by the desperation for hope and love she sees in the orphans’ eyes. And no less by the connection she feels with her handsome translator. As newfound passion blooms, Brooke wrestles with its implications for her career dreams.

Ubaldo Chavez, teacher and translate, knows the struggle that comes with generational poverty. But he found the way out – education – and is determined to help his students rise above.

When he agrees to translate for a mission team from the United States he expects to encounter a bunch of “missional tourists” full of empty promises. Yet an American news anchor defies his expectations, and he finds himself falling in love. But what does he have to offer someone with everything?

My Impressions:

Healing Love can be categorized as a contemporary romance since it has a love story that develops throughout the book. But its message is so much more than that. If anything it tells the story of a young woman who falls in love with God’s people. Inspired by a mission trip the author’s family participated in, this dual setting novel (California and El Salvador) explores the desperate needs of people and our response to it. I really liked this one, and if you have a heart for missions and love a happily-ever-after ending, you will too!

Brooke Endress is two years out of grad school and pursuing her dream of working in broadcast journalism. Reluctantly she agrees to accompany her teenaged sister on a mission trip to El Salvador. As Brooke is confronted with the realities of the desperate life of poverty in that country, her whole perspective is turned upside down. Translator Ubaldo Calla has his worldview challenged as well when discovers that the beautiful North American is not the spoiled woman he thought, but deeply caring with a love for his home country.

The contrast between American life and the crippling poverty of El Salvador is uncovered in Healing Love. This novel brought the struggle of survival to life for this reader. Slattery doesn’t shy away from sharing the problems of El Salvador — poverty, child labor, sexual abuse, poor education. The missions team that Brooke accompanies makes an impression, but it is really long term action that is required to truly make a difference. I really liked the spiritual growth that Brooke and Ubaldo undergo as they heal relationships and touch lives.

Full of heart, faith, and love, Healing Love is a great story. It is one that will leave you thinking long after the last page is turned. It is an especially good choice for a book club or missions group.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE. (It’s free for Kindle Unlimited!)

(Thanks to the author for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Author, speaker, and ministry leader Jennifer Slattery writes for Crosswalk.com and is the managing and acquiring editor for Guiding Light Women’s Fiction, an imprint with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She believes fiction has the power to transform lives and change the culture. Healing Love is her sixth novel, and it was birthed during a trip she and her family took to El Salvador that opened her eyes to the reality of generational poverty and sparked a love for orphans and all who’ve experienced loss.

Her deepest passion is to help women experience God’s love and discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she travels with her team to various churches to speak to women and help them experience the love and freedom only Christ can offer. When not writing, editing, or speaking, you’ll likely find her chatting with her friends or husband in a quiet, cozy coffeehouse. Visit her online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com and connect with her and her Wholly Loved team at WhollyLoved.com.

Q&A with Jennifer Slattery

When did you begin to write?

I’ve been writing in one fashion or another since I learned to hold a pencil. I wrote my first story (or at least, the first one I remember) when I was in maybe fourth or fifth grade for a young author’s contest. I remember being selected from my class, though I can’t remember what I was selected for! Maybe to have my story included in a publication?

For years, I wrote poems, which is interesting because now I stink at poetry, though I do often write song lyrics for my stories. (Music can be such a powerful way to connect with God and soak in truth!). I never really pursued publication or even thought about what that might look like until about a decade ago when I began to sense a clear call from God. I felt God was telling me not only was I to write, and write for Him, but this was to be my predominant focus.

After a bit of resisting (for numerous reasons all related to pride and fear), I surrendered, plunked myself in front of my computer, and penned what later became Breaking Free (my fourth and so far, most popular, release).

What led you to write Healing Love?

The idea for this story came while on a plane ride leaving El Salvador, a country I was initially nervous to visit but quickly became reluctant to leave. Our family joined our church (at the time) for a weeklong mission trip, during which we served at an orphanage for girls who had been sexually abused. It was an incredibly emotional and eye-opening experience.

I left with a broken heart and a large pile of letters the girls had written to me before we left. Those letters remain in the top drawer of my bedside table to this day and serve as a reminder of God’s call to love — however and whenever I can.

On the plane ride back, tears pricking my eyes, letters in my lap, I processed all I’d experienced and saw during my week. All God had shown me, not just about the El Salvador people and the sweet orphans I had so quickly fallen in love with, but about His heart. And almost instantly, a story idea took hold.

The next six months or so were incredibly painful as I researched what life was really like for countless families in El Salvador, many of whom have no choice but to work long hours in the hot sun, many of whom are forced to have their children as young as seven and eight working beside them. Many others who live on trash heaps, scavenging for food. Others still who, desperate to survive, sell their children into sex trafficking. Women and children who’ve sold themselves.

One of the downfalls of having a writer’s brain is that everything in my mind plays out in vivid detail. Add to that the fact that I have a bit of OCD, and my brain can get stuck on replay mode, in this case, a replay that utterly broke me.

One afternoon, I went for a walk, trying not to think about all I learned and the precious children our family had encountered — trying not to see their faces as they flashed through my mind — I started to pray. I don’t remember what I said, except that I asked God why He was allowing me to see such heartache and pain, such suffering.

And as if in response, a gentle yet clear thought arose: This is what He sees daily, only more so. Not only does He see the pain, but He hears their constant, desperate cries as they beg for aid.

Aid that, most often, comes through you and I.

In what ways can you relate to Brooke, the heroine in Healing Love?

Oh, my word! In many, and not always the best of ways. I’ve already admitted I have a bit of OCD. In other words, I like to control my world and everything in it. As with Brooke, this comes out strongest when I feel out of control — threatened, vulnerable. Fearful. When instead I should be turning to God in surrender — because that’s when I find strength and peace. But I’m learning, as is Brooke.

In what ways can you relate to Ubaldo, the hero?

Sweet Ubaldo. He means well, and he’s done and is doing a lot of good. I love that he’s driven by his integrity and a genuine love for others. But he can get so focused on doing what he believes to be right that he can in fact hurt others and push them away. I can do that, also. My stubborn, passionate side can become too passionate, working against me and whatever God is calling me to do. Finding the balance between love and truth, passion and grace, can be hard. But again, I’m learning.

Thanks, Jennifer, for sharing your story and your heart!

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: