Two Families Healing Through Faith
Karen Jones Gowan has been quite supportive of authors, and it was my pleasure to review the advance reader copy of her novel House of Diamonds
. This novel is a follow-up to Uncut Diamonds
, which I haven’t read. As I understand, this novel isn’t necessarily a sequel but follows the lives of the same characters, sisters Marcie and Cindy.
The story’s blurb says Two sisters, one facing opportunity, the other tragedy
. Marcie, the mother of seven children, has always wanted to be a writer. She joins a local author group and pursues her dream. Marcie seems so at ease as a mother, and I’m stunned she can find ANY time to write with seven children! Marcie’s younger sister Cindy is the one facing tragedy. Her baby son Jordan has a severe medical problem that forces the family to live at the hospital for many months. The mystery of Jordan’s illness was at first intriguing. Then I felt so saddened to find out the exact diagnosis because my friend’s baby died of that illness, and I can’t imagine how awful the situation would be.
This is a story about the trials of small-town domestic life taking place in the 1980’s and the power of religious faith to cope with those trials. As an unmarried career woman, I had trouble relating to the characters’ personalities, values, and concerns.
I hadn’t realized this was a story focusing on two Mormon families, and it was tough to digest the religious aspects of the novel because my spiritual beliefs are quite different. Elder Maxwell spoke of God’s need to let us go through difficult experiences here on earth . . . That we must accept the difficulties which come our way like an obedient child bowing to the will of a loving father, knowing these things are for our good
I believe in a loving God that doesn’t cause pain but rather helps us through life’s pain. The idea of God purposely giving us travails to test our fortitude and faith is a bit uncomfortable for me. I’m also a feminist and have some difficulty with the role of women in the Mormon religion. It’s good this part of the story provokes such thought and discussion, and it was interesting to see a point of view from a community so different from mine.
The reader can see how much Cindy’s faith bolsters her: Marcie, I thank God every moment for the prayers, the blessings, and for each improvement Jordan makes, no matter how small.
One aspect I totally didn’t connect with was the short story written by Marcie, “My Fat Sister”. Marcie wrote about how her older sister Linda was an overweight child and teen, whose family teased her incessantly. Linda didn’t make the swim team or go to Junior Prom because she was too fat. I think this story was supposed to be funny? Instead, it really angered me. Now that Linda the adult has somehow thinned out, the family continues to laugh about her fat youth. The story seemed cruel and unrealistic to me, but perhaps I’m especially sensitive to this issue due to counseling individuals with eating disorders.
Marcie has some run-ins with a pompous author in her group, Professor Yardley. When he continues to insult her and her writing, she cowers and hides from him. (I was hoping she’d stand up to him more but her most rebellious act is nicknaming him Professor Turdley.) This storyline doesn’t really get resolved which makes me wonder if Karen’s planning a third book in the series.
I did like how healing through faith links the sisters’ disparate experiences, as well as the metaphor of people as diamonds, strengthening and brightening from immense pressure. The writing was clear and easy to follow.
Overall, I personally didn’t relate to the characters and their world. However, those who enjoy spiritual family stories will likely find this book interesting.
(Thank you to Julie from A Tale of Many Reviews for her editing assistance!)