MHB in the Blue Ridge: Laurel’s Dream (2019) by Pepper Basham is the latest novel in the My Heart Belongs series published by Barbour Books. This novel comes in all forms including eBook, and is 256 pages in length. With a full-time job and a very lively six-year old, this book took me two days to read. I received a review copy of this novel in paperback form from the publisher, Barbour Books. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own. I give MHB in the Blue Ridge: Laurel’s Dream 5+++++ STARS. This novel is a Historical Christian Romance.
About the Book
Journey into the Blue Ridge Mountains of 1918 where Laurel McAdams endures the challenges of a hard life while dreaming things can eventually improve. But trouble arrives in the form of an outsider. Having failed his British father again, Jonathan Taylor joins is uncle’s missionary endeavors as a teacher in a two-room schoolhouse. Laurel feels compelled to protect the tenderhearted teacher from the harsh realities of Appalachian life, even while his stories of life outside the mountains pull at Laurel’s imagination. Faced with angry parents over teaching methods, Laurel’s father’s drunken rages, and bad news from England, will Jonathan leave and never return, or will he stay and let love bloom?
The more books I read by Pepper Basham, the more I am convinced she is one of the best writers in Christian fiction today. And, what a range — to go from writing excellent, swoon-worthy contemporaries to crafting seriously good historical stories that make me feel like I am there in the time period … now that is a God-given talent. I hope there is a lot more in store in the near future from Pepper Basham! Oh, and MHB in the Blue Ridge: Laurel’s Dream is FABULOUS! I love this story so much.
I’m going to seemingly go off on a tangent for a moment, but bear with me because I promise my tangent will make sense. Here I go … teaching stinks. In today’s America, it may be one of the worst jobs a person can have. Picking up roadkill may be a better job because at least when you’re doing it you’re not trapped inside a rectangular box ALL day except for one ten-minute potty run and a 25-minute lunch. BUT, teaching can be one of the most amazing jobs ever, too. Like all things in this life, it 100% boils down to perspective, purpose, and partnership. First, perspective. A good teacher knows to look beyond frustrating Admins, lame and damaging politics, and great deficiencies in supplies and support to see the children. Which leads to number two, purpose. A good teacher knows WHY he/she is in the classroom — because God put us there, and the kids really, really need us. And good teachers don’t lose sight of this purpose. Finally, number three, partnership. A great teacher partners with God. I don’t care who you are or what you believe, if you don’t bring God with you (in your heart) into the classroom you will never be the best teacher you could be. Here’s my rationale: if God put me into my classroom for a purpose, you better believe that daily I am going to ask for His guidance and help. With God, I can’t fail. God is my partner EVERY TIME I step into room 409 at Palmdale High School. I cannot physically do one of the worst jobs in America without Him. And you know what? With Him, it’s not the worst job anymore.
Jonathan Taylor, the hero in MHB in the Blue Ridge, initially becomes a teacher in Blue Ridge because he needs to escape his oppressive, selfish, rigid father. He does also have a heart to help the children of the poor Blue Ridge community, but his heart is in escaping his reality first. Jonathan does make huge strides, but is then brought real low by some very stubborn, superstitious, ignorant humans. It almost forces him to quit. This is because Jonathan initially lacks the proper perspective, purpose, and partnership. No one will ever be a successful teacher in any field if these three P’s aren’t present. It’s why teacher turnover is SO high today. Discouraging things happen in teaching EVERY DAY, but we can’t let that get the best of us. When teachers look beyond the discouragement, they will see kids who truly care — something Jonathan witnesses in a very real, heartfelt way. It did my teacher-heart SO happy to see Jonathan not give up on his students. He remembers that kids matter, and he begins to recognize each of his students for their unique strengths and abilities. Jonathan validates his students, which then allows the kiddos to trust him and want to learn. When Jonathan becomes a real teacher — when his P’s are appropriately aligned — it’s the best moment in the book for me. Thank you, Pepper Basham, for respectfully illustrating through Jonathan the arduous job that I do every day. Being a teacher is hard. Knowing that someone out there still respects my job means everything to me!
Choosing to love someone is sometimes the hardest thing in the world. It’s much easier to dislike someone, to hate someone, to be angry at someone. All it takes for me to see that my heart leans more towards hate than love is to get in my car and drive. Within minutes I’m calling the person who just cut me off, then slowed down, a dummy. Not only did I have to slam on my brakes, but now I’m not really going anywhere because this person just had to be in front of me. For my heart, the feeling of frustration and the need to punch the guy for his dumb action is easy for me to feel. Choosing to remain chill and slow down, to show a little decency, doesn’t cross my mind until about five minutes after the event has happened. Then I just feel lame. What I love so much about MHB in the Blue Ridge is how Laurel loves. She is a great representation of someone who gives love like Jesus. Every day she chooses to love everyone, even those who are a serious challenge to love, because she wants to counteract the hardness that permeates her community. Instead of filling her heart with bitterness and hate, Laurel chooses love every time. I find her to be one of the most courageous characters I’ve ever read. Her actions in this story have left an indelible mark on me. The next time I get in the car to drive somewhere, I’m going to try like mad to be more like Laurel!
MHB in the Blue Ridge: Laurel’s Dream is a wonderful story. I enjoyed every minute of the story line, and I will miss my time with these wonderful, colorful characters. If you are in the mood for a seriously amazing Historical Romance then I implore you to purchase a copy of Mrs. Basham’s novel today. It is a 2019 Must Read!
I am giving away ONE (1) paperback copy of Laurel’s Dream by Pepper Basham. The giveaway begins today, 1-2-19 at 5:00 pm (PST) and ends on Saturday, 1-5-19 at 12:00 pm (PST). To enter, click on the Rafflecopter link below. Good luck!
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