A Promise in Pieces
By Emily T. Wierenga
Quilts of Love
Abingdon Press, 2014
A baby quilt touches many hearts as it travels from family-to-family and through generations.
After the end of World War II, Clara Kirkpatrick returns from the Women’s Army Corp to deliver a dying soldier’s last wishes: convey his love to his young widow, Mattie, with apologies for the missed life they had planned to share.
Struggling with her own post-war trauma, Clara thinks she’s not prepared to handle the grief of this broken family. Yet upon meeting Mattie, and receiving a baby quilt that will never cuddle the soldier’s baby, Clara vows to honor the sacrifices that family made.
Now a labor and delivery nurse in her rural hometown, Clara wraps each new babe in the gifted quilt and later stitches the child’s name into the cloth. As each new child is welcomed by the quilt, Clara begins to wonder whatever happened to Mattie—and if her own life would ever experience the love of a newborn. Little does she know that she will have the opportunity to re-gift the special quilt—years later and carrying even greater significance than when it was first bestowed.
I have greatly enjoyed the books I've read so far in the Quilts of Love series. Each of these standalone stories tell of love and loss, hope and faith, tradition and new beginnings, and focus on the women who quilted these things into their family histories.
But when it comes to A Promise in Pieces by debut author Emily T. Wierenga, I'd have to say this story is in a class of its own. I'm not sure what I expected when I first picked this book up - another sweet story and a fairly light read, maybe? We often use terms like "unique" or "fresh voice" to describe a first-time author or an unusual book - and while these descriptions hold true, there's a lot more involved here.
What's most unusual to me, I think, is that the story is told entirely in the voice of 77-year-old Clara while travelling with her family to bring completion to a promise made long ago. It reads almost like a journal and it just feels so real! Emily has crafted a wonderful story with her lyrical writing, and she has that special "something" when it comes to making her characters leap off the pages. I recognized this as a gem in the Christian fiction market from the first page, and this is a story whose characters will continue to linger in my thoughts.
Clara's reminiscing begins in 1943 when she joined the Women's Army Corp, and what follows is one of the most real and emotionally touching accounts I've ever read. Upon seeing the field hospital tents in Normandy, Clara reflects on the pain "that happened when I looked into the faces of the soldiers and saw someone who reminded me of Timmy from the ship, or the brother I never had, and the pain only war could inflict: the pain of being so wrenched from reality you just toss and moan."
At center stage is the quilt - made by young bride Mattie with eager anticipation that turned to grief when her husband died - a quilt that became a source of blessing and comfort to many families in Clara's hands.
Clara tenderly touched the names stitched into the cloth. The patches of fabric were varying shades of blue and yellow, and next to her children's names there were others - fifty-seven others - and beneath each name, a promise, stitched in white. A word, written in tiny cursive, blessing the baby. The whole quilt covering a generation of children, blanketing them in hope.
Characterization and writing style are also strengths of Emily's writing . . .
- Oliver, Clara's husband, a truly appealing man who comes to see life as a gift - "a man who'd grown friendships like he had flowers, with tenderness and care, attentive to detail."
- Mrs. Bailey, Clara's landlady, whose "words tasted like hope, and I was ravenous."
- The strong friendship between Clara and Mattie - "A good friend is someone who is always there. Period. Nothing earthly - no fight, no hurt, no words - can separate a friendship that has its footing in heaven."
Clara's spiritual growth is present on every page - moving from anger at God when her efforts to save someone fail, to acceptance that pain is a part of love. I am so glad God put this story in Emily's heart and hope we will hear more from her soon. Highly recommended!
A Promise in Pieces can be purchased at Amazon, CBD, DeeperShopping, and B&N.
Emily T. Wierenga
Emily Wierenga is a former editor, ghostwriter, freelance writer and staff journalist, a monthly columnist for The Christian Courier, and the author of Save My Children (Castle Quay Books, 2008), Chasing Silhouettes (Ampelon Publishing, 2012) and Mom in the Mirror (Rowman & Littlefield, 2013). Emily resides in Alberta, Canada. This is her first novel.
Meet Emily online at www.emilywierenga.com, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Pinterest. More information can also be found at the Litfuse blog tour page.
Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.