Saturday, May 9, 2009

She's in a Better Place by Angela Hunt

She's in a Better Place

She's in a Better Place
by Angela Hunt

Trade Paperback: 337 pages
Publisher: Tyndale
First Released: 2009

Author Website

Source: Review copy from publisher

Back Cover Description:
Jennifer Graham is struggling to make ends meet while running the Fairlawn Funeral Home, raising two children, and studying for her national board exam. Her work takes on a new dimension when Gerald Huffman, her assistant and mentor, reveals that he has a serious illness. When she learns that he and his daughter haven’t spoken in years, Jen decides to help them reconcile . . . but things don’t go exactly as she planned.

Jennifer is longing for stability in her life . . . but she soon discovers that life isn’t stagnant; it’s always changing. Once again, the mortuary is a setting for lessons of laughter, love, and life.

The book is a Christian fiction novel with some romance in it. This novel is the last in the series, but you don't need to read the previous books to fully understand this one.

The novel is written in present tense ("I go to the window and close it") instead of the more typical past tense ("I went to the window and closed it"). This sounds very odd to me since people usually tell stories in past tense, and I have a hard time settling into stories told in present tense.

The story is initially set up as a conflict between a man who needs to buy Jennifer's funeral home and Jennifer, who is having severe financial troubles. From this set-up, I expected the main story to be about the man trying to convince Jennifer to sell the funeral home while she painfully debates whether or not to sell while everything seems to go wrong. Shortly after this set-up, however, the plot threads are diverted and the book turns into a touching story about dealing with losing someone you love to terminal cancer. I even cried at the end.

The problems brought up at the beginning are neatly tied up at the end, but we're not given any real explanation about why some of them aren't problems anymore. I would have liked it if the author had taken more time at the end to explain the motives behind the choices of a few of the secondary characters.

The main characters were all likable and acted realistically. The pacing was very good. The world-building was excellent: the city, the people, and Jennifer's job really came alive. The author skillfully wove in many details of the funeral industry without overloading on those details.

Christianity plays a deep role in the character's lives and how they treat others. There is no cussing or sex. Overall, I'd rate this book as "good, clean fun."

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.

Excerpt: Chapter One
Corpses should be better behaved.

Mr. Lyle Kourtis, aged ninety-three years, has been resting on my embalming table for less than a hour, but he's already belched four times. I wouldn't mind so much--the dead do burp and even shift occasionally--but the hour is late, darkness is pressing at the windows, and I'm alone in the chilly prep room.

Gerald had run to the drugstore for cotton balls, so I've been left to bathe Mr. Kourtis. The job won't be difficult--the old man is as thin as a bird, and rigor is not so pronounced that he's resisting my efforts. The arterial embalming is well under way, the Porti-Boy rhythmically clicking as it sends embalming fluid through a plastic tube and into our clients carotid artery. A bath will help the solution move through the arteries in the gentleman's limbs.

I pick up the hose, turn on the water, and test the temperature by spraying a stream over my wrist, the same place I used to test bottles of formula when Clay and Bugs were babies. The water doesn't have to be warm, of course--Mr. Kourtis certainly won't care if it's cool--but Gerald has ingrained in me such a respect for the dead that I can no more imagine giving my client a cold shower than I could perform an embalming without a hand towel draped over the body's most private organs.

Read the rest of chapter one.


Rebecca :) said...

This sounds interesting, although I know I need to put it on the back shelf for a while. My dad just passed in January and I know it is too soon to be reading any book that takes place in a funeral home! But it does sound like a great book. I liked the first chapter. Thanks for sharing.

Book Club and Reviews said...

Thanks for commenting. :)

I'm sorry to hear about your dad passing away. *hugs*