3 out of 4 stars
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Yesterday’s Gone by Diane Bardeen is a young adult fiction novel. It is a faith-based story that describes how spiritual struggles can be pivotal in determining a person’s future.
Samantha and Jake moved from New York to Pennsylvania. Their aunt and uncle would be their new caretakers. Seven years ago their mother had disappeared and never returned. They lived with their father, but he had died in an automobile accident. Now, a new home, a new school, and new friends were daily challenges. A group of girls at school took Samantha under their wing and invited her to attend their youth group at church.
Samantha learned to adapt to her new surroundings. At school, she helped her friend Sam cope with the emotional pain of his mother’s death. She could identify with the feelings he was experiencing. The dance class had an opening and Yvonne invited Samantha to continue her dance lessons under her tutelage. Everything was moving along smoothly, and Samantha and Jake began to connect with their new friends and surroundings. Then their mother reappeared and upset all the progress they had made, provoking anger and resentment in her children. Where had she been for seven years? Did she believe she could walk back into their lives and resume her role as their mother as though nothing had happened?
The story focused on Samantha and her spiritual struggles. She questioned why God let bad things happen to good people. Her major conflict involved her mother’s disappearance seven years prior. In her eyes, such an act did not merit to be forgiven nor forgotten. She was finally coming to terms with her father’s death. How could she bear up under the pain and confusion that her mother's reappearance triggered in her heart ?
I liked the way Samantha developed in her emotional and spiritual life. Young people will identify with the situations described in the book and the questions that arose in her mind. Where is God when I am suffering? If he is almighty, why doesn’t he fix my problems and take away my suffering? The characters modeled Christian values, such as prayer and praise, Bible reading, and church attendance. The story highlighted Biblical beliefs in a very gentle and positive way without preaching or forcing the issue.
The author’s writing style was easy to read and written at an appropriate level for the target audience. The conversations and activities reflected the interests of this age group. At the end of the book, there is a list of discussion questions for each chapter. These questions motivate readers to reflect on Samantha’s attitudes and to consider the results and the consequences of her actions.
I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. There wasn’t anything that I disliked about this book. The story was intriguing and well written. The number of misspelled words was the only thing that forced me to lower the score. This book would appeal to young people struggling with change and conflict in their life. Youth groups would benefit from the story and the accompanying discussion questions. Readers who do not like books with a spiritual message might not like this story.
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