Friday, August 26, 2011

 Heartwrenching!! A story of life and faith!

From the Publisher
Jeremiah Williams has been tending the gardens of the Tennessee governor’s mansion for over twenty-five years. And like most first families who have come and gone, this one has stolen his heart.

Mackenzie and her husband, Governor Gray London, have struggled for ten years to have a child and are now enjoying a sweet season of life—anticipating the coming reelection and sending their precious daughter, Maddie, off to kindergarten—when a tragedy tears their world apart. As the entire state mourns, Mackenzie falls into a grief that threatens to swallow her whole.

Though his heart is also broken, Jeremiah realizes that his gift of gardening is about far more than pulling weeds and planting flowers. It’s about tending hearts as well. As he uses the tools that have been placed in his hands, he gently begins to cultivate the hard soil of Mackenzie’s heart, hoping to help her realize what it took him years to discover.

A Southern tale of loss, love, and living, The First Gardner reminds us that all of life is a gift, but our heart is the most valuable gift of all.

Read the first chapter here.

My Take
This is one of those books that you just can’t put down---it’s almost as if you are living with the characters and feeling their pain and heartbreak. The First Gardener was the first book I’ve read by Denise Hildreth Jones but it won’t be the last! She has the gift of story-telling and really draws the reader in to her story.
I felt so sad for Mackenzie and Gray with their attempts at having a family. To lose a child, especially in such a tragic event, must be the worst event in a mother’s life—it’s understandable the emotions  and  reactions she goes through. However, she never could deal with her grief. Her family makes attempts to help her but until Mackenzie wants to help herself, nothing will work.  As in real life, the first step is to admit you have trouble but Mackenzie doesn’t even get that far. Pushing down the grief isn’t healthy but having been in the same circumstance many years ago, it’s the hardest experience to deal with. However, I was frustrated with how her family coddled her. At some point they should have intervened to help her climb out of her depression---her health, emotional and physical, was in jeopardy. Even if it was just to reignite her faith in God and his healing grace. Yes, it’s hard, but she needed that grace.

Mackenzie’s mom is just a hoot! And her friends even more so. They added that little relief of humor so necessary in a book like this. Even though they were an embarrassment at times, you gotta love their spunk during a time of need. And they truly cared about each other. Any negative comments to each other were always forgiven and dismissed as only good friends can do. Their belief in each other really touched my heart.

But my favorite character was the gardener, Jeremiah. His deep faith in God and his garden (through God) is unshakeable. I loved how he used to language of flowers to speak to others when words just weren’t enough. He took such good care of his “family” in the governor’s mansion and became a confidant to those currently living there. Jeremiah is one of the people you meet and remember for the rest of your life. He reminded me of a big hug using only his words and flowers. 

Even with the sadness and grief,  I’d give this book a 4 out of 5 stars. The characters became my friends and I hurt along with them. It’s a story of real life and undeniable faith. I’ll definitely be reading more of Ms Jones’ books in the future!

Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of  The First Gardener in exchange for my personal, honest review.

About the Author

If you are looking for a good summer-time fiction novel to read, I recommend The First Gardener  by Denise Hildreth Jones!   It’s a real life story of life . . .  and death, forgiveness, depression and broken dreams.  The story line is that of the Governor of Tennessee, Gary London, and his wife, Mackenzie and their dear little daughter, Maddie, who was very loved and long waited for after going through many years of infertility.   But tragedy hits the family, actually several times that sends them tail-spinning into finding their new normal and recovery.

Another major person in The First Gardener, is the governor’s gardener, whose tender heart reaches out to the family through his gift of flowers and their meanings.  I loved this what he said, in his Southern accent, as he grieved with them:

Maybe this what the last thirty years been for.  Maybe this why I gone through ever’thing I gone through, see ever’thing I see, hear ever’thing I hear. ‘Cause this family need me.  ’Cause there be some way I can make a difference, even if it’s only prayin’ for an ornery ol’ woman.

1 comment:

Cathy said...

I just finished this The First Gardener and just loved it. I felt the same about this story as you. I look forward to reading other reviews. Thanks for sharing