Waking Up Joy
by Tina Ann Forkner
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Tule Publishing Group
Released: October 8, 2014
Source: Review copy.
Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Joy Talley is determined to stop living in the past, but the first step she takes in that direction ends up nearly killing her. In an attempt to remove the last physical evidence of a traumatic past experience from it's hiding place, she falls and ends up in a coma. She is surprised that she can hear people while in her coma, and she's angry that people think she was trying to commit suicide. But they all realize it's a miracle she survived, and she finally wakes up in a spectacular fashion. Will the misunderstandings and pain of the past prevent her from forgiving wrongs and exposing her secret so she can finally find healing?
Waking Up Joy is a Christian general fiction novel. The first part of the book was spent with Joy in a coma overhearing things, and it had a slightly comedic feel. We know that something traumatic happened in the past, but we're not told what it is even when the heroine is thinking about it. I don't like it when an author does this as the "big secret" never lives up to all the mystery and it'd make more of an emotional impact if we knew what she was struggling with.
Yet, in a way, it worked in this case. We get clues about what happened, and it was very traumatic. The event happened when she was a teenager and so seemed even bigger to her. Part of the story was her learning that she's not alone in having secrets or a bad past, and she doesn't need to live bound by one traumatic hour.
Joy and the boy who was traumatized along with her act realistically and have a good depth to them. But I felt distant from them rather than highly empathetic because the events that motivated all of their actions were hidden from the reader. Most of the other characters were the comic relief and had very little character development.
A side theme of the story was Joy and her family learning to let go of a heritage that believed in magic trees and charms in addition to God as they realized that it was God doing the miracles to free them from the past. (They still believe that their dead father visits them, though.)
There were no graphic sex scenes though a vaguely described rape does occur in one scene. The was a minor amount of bad language. Overall, if you're okay with stories about traumatic pasts that are the main focus and yet not openly addressed for much of the book, then you'll probably like this book.
If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.