A Chance at Forever by Melissa Jagears is the third and final in the “Teaville Moral Society” series. While this is a “Christian Romance” and fulfills all my favorite things about that genre, it also is filled with a few twists and extra plot elements that make the story unique. I love the way Jagears addresses the ramifications of “the red light district” on a community; bullying’s impact on the lives of people, and how faith can penetrate them both. This book has a deep spiritual truths and challenged me personally. As the continuation of the story A Chance at Forever is the conclusion of the series and ties up the ongoing story that was started in A Heart Most Certain and A Love So True. (You can read those reviews here.)
Aaron Firebrook, although a bully historically, has returned home to make amends and in hopes of impacting youth in all the ways he needed as a young person. Mercy McClain who was born with a birth defect was a victim of his bullying; since then she has found great opportunities to impact the lives of children herself and will fight fiercely to protect them from Mr. Firebrook himself. As the story unfolds I found myself routing for them independently and knowing that somehow “it would all turn out.” Thankfully I wasn’t disappointed and along the road felt encouraged, challenged, and inspired.
Jagears really does develop likeable characters that I find myself endeared to and rooting for. I relate to some and when I don’t I often find there is a lesson to be learned. I enjoyed seeing the themes of forgiveness, generosity, and service explored in a genuine and interesting setting. The orphanage itself, and the children it influences, add spice and intrigue to the story and leave you wanting more, hoping for the best for each of these characters. I took the book loads of places with me, and packed in the reading whenever I could.
It did however take me longer than normal to finish. Simply because…
It had nothing to do with the book itself and instead more to do with my day to day grind. I am a mom of four boys ages 5 and under and I have to fit in reading whenever I can. So… I thought I’d share a few of my favorite tips once again. I’ve shared these before but whenever I find myself “not having enough time to read” I have to remind myself of these tips, and that in order to actually do it I have to be creative. So here goes…
1. Take your book everywhere. By the time I complete the book they are so beat up from going everywhere with me! I also get the same book in multiple formats so I always have the same book with me whether that is on my phone (Kindle app) or a hard copy.
2. Use the “Overdrive” app to check out digital and audiobooks. This helps me be able to “read” in the car using the audio format, read in the school pick up line or while I wait for my tires to be changed. Plus it’s free! I am more intentional about which books I get as an audiobook. (I like them especially when they are read by the author themselves, and I often select fiction because with non fiction I want to write in my books and also am often writing discussion questions for them.)
3. I am someone who can read in snippets, small bits of time, but I do not want to read the same stuff over and over; using a bookmark helps with that. If I think I will remember where I left off, I am sorely mistaken. I never do and do not like re-reading the same chapters over and over, this gets me so discouraged. So a bookmark it is. I also like to pick a special card from a friend or photograph that inspires me.
4. If I don’t like the book, and I know it early on, I move on. Or I give it 100 pages.
5. I have my next book picked out before I ever finish this one.
6. Remember the more you read the easier it is and the faster you are. I go in seasons and will often focus in on non fiction in the school year (when I am leading groups that need content) and then read fiction in the summer to give my mind a break and keep up my reading speed. Sometimes I rotate non fiction, fiction, non fiction, fiction just so my mind doesn’t numb out.
7. Visit the library, give yourself some variety so they don’t all begin to sound the same or blend together. I check out the “new to the library” shelves, or visit a “free little library” nearby. I try to read new to the scene books and authors, but I often toss one in there that is a “classic” or one “everyone raved about” that I just never got around to. Think… the ones people say, “that’s an oldie but a goodie” about. Most recently this was Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. As I am a Christian Fiction enthusiast everyone was shocked to hear that I hadn’t read it. But the topic was off limits to me as a teen, per my mom’s request; and then I just never got around to it. I finished it on our ten year anniversary cruise this past May and BOY OH BOY am I glad I stuck to this tip and pulled it off a friend’s shelf. Stay tuned a review is coming soon!
8. Read when you aren’t tired. Often I leave it until evening “when the kids are in bed,” but then I fall asleep and don’t make good progress. I have started reading during nap time with a cup of coffee, and then I am not as tired. I leave the chores or “to do list” items to be done while kids are awake since I enlist their help or I can do it with kids in tow. That being said I also read while the kids are awake because it’s good for them to see me read!
The summer has arrived in our house and I’m fitting more reading in during all the “in-between” moments. Boys romping, Legos crashing, Momma reading. A Chance at Forever, and the Teaville Moral Society series as a whole has been a wonderful companion in all these things. I found new friends in the characters, the story pulling me away from reality in all the right ways, and left me feeling challenged spiritually and emotionally. I hope you’ll grab a copy of the book, and let me know what you think!