Chasing Hope by Kathryn Cushman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Inspiring and Corny
When I saw the blurb for this new release, I loved the NA/YA sports angle and signed up to review it on my blog. This is a poignant story demonstrating the adage “When God closes a door, He opens a window.”
Sabrina is a college senior whose dream to run for Team USA in the Olympics fell short due to an autoimmune illness attacking her body. She is bitter about her loss, and angry with God for crashing her vaunted goal of becoming a missionary who spreads God’s word based on her running success.
Sabrina lives with her grandmother, who seems to disapprove of Sabrina’s revised plan to begin a competitive business internship. But Sabrina doesn’t want to hear it and continues with her busy life of classes and work, despite feeling tired and sick most of the time.
They encounter a family friend whose teenaged grand-daughter Brandy has fallen in with the wrong crowd. Brandy gets arrested for using drugs, and the only way for her to avoid juvenile detention is for Sabrina to coach her as a runner. Sabrina’s not thrilled about working with this sullen, disrespectful teenager, but reluctantly agrees to help out her grandmother and her friend. Coaching Brandy brings on nightmares of races Sabrina no longer can run.
Brandy has natural talent but doesn’t seem to care about using it. Sabrina would give anything to run again. It’s a fiery mix of personalities that keeps the story interesting.
I haven’t read many Christian novels, so if this is your preferred genre then you may love this story. Overall I enjoyed it, but I did have some quibbles. At times I found the characterization cheesy. My biggest struggle was that the characters’ voices didn’t sound authentic for their age. I work with college students, and I can’t imagine them saying something like:
”Bless your heart, I’ll just bet she has.”
“Perhaps it is time for some new ones.”
“Sabrina Rice, would you do me the honor of accompanying me on a date this Saturday evening?”
I also found it difficult to understand why Sabrina felt so ashamed of her illness ending her running career. It was frustrating when she wouldn’t tell a potential boyfriend Koen about her background. I wonder if she felt shame because she believed God caused her illness for some reason. I disagree with that notion — my beliefs align more with the message of When Bad Things Happen to Good People : God can’t stop natural phenomena like gravity or disease, but God can be there for us to heal and recover.
ARCs are not polished copies but the formatting was so jumbled that I had difficulty following who was speaking at times. And for some reason all the “ff”s were deleted, which was off-putting, or o-putting.
I do have a fondness for Brandy’s grandmother, who was there for her no matter what. Despite some aspects I didn’t enjoy, this story did bring tears to my eyes a few times — a sign of a good read, in my opinion.
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