About the BookName of book: Hope Travels Through
Author: Loni Kemper Moore
Genre: Contemporary Lit
TeJae Smythe gave up on God and her hometown of Evansville, Indiana, ten years ago, but a deep personal loss requires her to return to both. Her life as a stewardess is going to be perfect. She has a plan. If only life would stick to it.
In Hope Travels Through, TeJae finds the biggest challenge comes from the conflict within herself. Will she hold it all together? Or will she fall apart and embrace the beauty in the midst of disaster?
Based on actual events of December 13, 1977, a date most people don’t remember, but one many living in the Ohio River Valley will never forget, the crash of the University of Evansville men’s basketball team plane.
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My ThoughtsLoni Kemper Moore’s debut novel, Hope Travels Through, takes place during the year leading up to a plane crash that captured the emotions of our nation. I remember well when the chartered flight carrying the University of Evansville men’s basketball team crashed on takeoff, killing all on board. I’m not a sports fan, but this was a tragedy that everyone could relate to, and its impact is still felt today.
|Weeping Basketball Memorial|
University of Evansville
Hope Travels Through is an unusual book, different from what I typically read, and I enjoyed it overall. One strength is the culture of the late 1970s era, which Moore vividly conveyed. There was so much that struck a chord with me and brought back memories – airports where you could walk to the gate to meet or see someone off, the popular soft drink TaB, Elvis Presley concerts, basketball player Larry Bird, the Vietnam years with all its fallout, etc.
Flight attendant TeJae and Army Reserves Chaplain Mikel were easy to connect with as main characters. Both were realistically flawed and experienced the type of growth I like to see. I especially enjoyed Mikel’s spiritual mentoring of the young basketball player, Daniel.
The writing isn’t as tight as it could have been and the pacing is a little slow at times, but the historical relevance and theme make it well worth the read. There were some neat little twists that made me smile. The story is not only a tribute to the Evansville basketball team, but a look at loss and how we react to it. One theme that I took to heart is the reminder to always cherish family and friends – and express those feelings of appreciation – so that if they were unexpectedly taken with no opportunity to say goodbye, we would have peace.
“Avoiding pain doesn’t mean I’ll never be hurt, but
somehow love is worth the pain.”
This is a first novel for Loni Kemper Moore and I hope she continues to write and develop her skills, for I believe she has much to offer readers.
I was provided a copy of this book from the author and Celebrate Lit. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
About the Author
Her writing came alive seven years ago after she broke her ankle. The crazy time of being laid up forced her to flip through decades of diaries, which inspired the story that became Hope Travels Through.
When she’s not writing, she’s an entertainer, technical support analyst; mom of a teenager named Adam; traveler with Robert, her dear “Hugsband,” stepmom to University of Evansville alumna Becca and her husband, Anthony; and spender of way too much time on Facebook.
With her experiences of learning to trust God through tragedy, being employed by travel agencies and Delta Air Lines, and attending University of Evansville graduate school, she’s the best person to tell this story.
Guest Post from Loni MooreWhat Made Me Write Hope Travels Through?
The weathered orthopedic surgeon shook his head and stared at the x-rays. Without making eye-contact, he said, “I usually work on Olympians and professional athletes. This doesn’t look good. She’s going to have arthritis and limp for the rest of her life.”
I hadn’t had anything stronger than Tylenol since the entire weight of my 128 (at the time) pounds crunched my left ankle, 24 hours earlier.
Robert, aka Dear Hugsband, had told me, so very graciously, when we arrived at Skate City, “Once you’re over 50, you shouldn’t roller skate.” But our son, Adam was 10 and I wondered how many more years he’d want me to hang out with him, so I’d strapped on the skates and joined the crowd of skaters. I avoided landing on the body of the five-year old who cut me off. Didn’t that count for something?
However, none of that mattered at that moment. I needed drugs, and Robert agreed to whatever that surgeon said to get my prescriptions.
One afternoon, my stomach growled on a gurney as I waited in the surgery center with IVs in my hands until a perky nurse announced, “The doctor will need to reschedule because something came up.”
REALLY? After waiting 10 days, he no-shows?
I’ve never loved Robert’s New York attitude more than the next day when by 7 pm that evening I was at Red Robin, post-surgery, eating a celebratory French Onion soup. Thanks to a nerve blocker the new, cute surgeon had provided after rebreaking bones and inserting pins.
Adam was able to complete his homeschool work with little interference from my drug infested brain and I occupied my time by flipping through decades of accumulated diaries. The story of a woman surviving tough times percolated in my brain and I remembered my mother saying, “Everyone has a Great American Novel in her. You just need to take time to write it.”
As my leg healed leaving no arthritis nor limp, I returned to the million things life demands, including a visit to our Becca at the University of Evansville, where I’d done my graduate work. As she showed us the Weeping Basketball, my protagonist informed me the story began in 1976, not 2011. The story climaxed when the university’s men’s basketball team plane crashed, but I was too busy to spend much time on it.
Three days before Christmas that year, my younger sister passed away from Lyme complications, I could barely breathe. I’ve seen it a dozen times someone’s busy life prevents her from taking care of herself until something stops them in their tracks and they cannot move on. That happened to me.
At the time, Dear Hugsband programmed Coca-Cola’s Freestyle machine (you’re welcome), so Adam and I joined him in Atlanta for several months. During that time without the cooking-cleaning-requirements and Adam insisting he preferred independence of his homeschool curriculum with minimal input from me, I processed my grief by putting the story that became Hope Travels Through on my computer.
“In a weak moment, I have written a book.” Margaret Mitchell – Gone With The Wind
Dear Hugsband loved his project with Coca-Cola and enjoyed everything about working in Atlanta except the humidity, the traffic and the commute. Typically, he worked in Georgia every other week, and was home every weekend.
But occasionally, he’d be forced to stay in Atlanta over the weekend and tried to find something to entertain himself. One weekend, after seeing every movie running, he decided to go to the Margaret Mitchell House Museum where one of my favorite books, Gone With The Wind, was written.
He bought me a mug with the above quote on it which he said was to encourage me in my writing, along with several commonalities between myself and the famous author.
- She was short—I am 5 feet tall, if I stretch;
- Her husband was over 6 feet tall—mine is 6’3 1/2”;
- She started writing her novel, after an ankle injury– I started writing after a similar injury;
- She used a typewriter—I use a computer;
- Her mother gave her the quotes she used about how to survive in an upside-down world – my mom had a Bible verse for every occasion. I think her favorite was Ephesians 4:32 “And be ye kind, Loni to whomever…”;
- It took Margaret ten years to complete her novel – I’m not far behind, at nearly eight years.
I’m well aware the odds of my little novel being successful, without the industry connections Margaret had, are low, but it’s been a fun journey even if no one buys a copy!
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