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Coming Home: A Story of Undying Hope (edition 2012)

by Karen Kingsbury

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144583,153 (4.11)1
Member:jbarr5
Title:Coming Home: A Story of Undying Hope
Authors:Karen Kingsbury
Info:Zondervan (2012), Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
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Coming Home: A Story of Undying Hope by Karen Kingsbury

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This final chapter in the saga of the Baxter family that spans several different series begins as a feel-good novel that quickly turns dark. Nevertheless the book taken in its entirety is a work of hope and faith and God's faithfulness in the midst of devastating circumstances. For those who have never experienced tragedy it may be hard to imagine that people can ever have a positive outlook after such sadness and heartache - but I have seen it in real life in the faces of people who've lost everything including their children, homes, and every last bit of what they ever owned but nonetheless have emerged triumphant and without bitterness. An important look at how real faith in God can be. ( )
  SherylHendrix | Nov 20, 2013 |
Coming Home by Karen Kingsbury
Elizabeth and John Baxter are the parents of the group they call a family. Through prayer and faith they have raised a handful of children who've gone and raised some of their own.
The plans for John's 70th birthday was on. Most would write a letter that would be read at the party. A scrapbook would be made with each of the children having a page.
Erin and her husband Sam have adopted 3 girls and have one of their own. The agency called and the mother wants to see the 3 girls, that she had tried to sell. She was just out of rehab, Candy Burns.
Memories of how each had met, their lives and how John was always there to give them guidance to the Lord.
Erin and Sam would drive for several days til they reached Blooington, IN where the party would be held. The meeting with the bio mother would take place after their return.
As the family learns of the accident and meet at the hospital the days go by where they keep losing another of their family. With their faith they will survive, and they'd have the help they need to do just that.
A lot of scriptures are quoted throughout the book, easing their pain.
There is also joy as life goes on for those who have survived...
The story also follows Candy and how she does things to help in her retaining custody.. ( )
  jbarr5 | Jan 7, 2013 |
This is a very hard story for me to critique. It is the final chapter on the Baxter family series. They were all great stories, but I am not sure I would have ended it the way Karen Kingsbury did. Was it well written - YES. Would I have put a tragedy in story like she did - NO. There is a heartwrenching tragedy in this story and although the family brings it all together in a way that glorifies their great God, I still wish it hadn't ended the way it did. I sometimes cry during emotional stories, but this one had me crying so hard I had to stop and get my act together before I continued to read. This is not the way I wanted the last book to end, but it is the way Karen Kingsbury chose to end it and she did a fantastic job of showing how ones faith and trust in the Lord will see them through even the most difficult times in their lifes. I hope and pray I never have to endure what this family went through, but I also hope and pray that my life would hope and trust in the Lord as theirs did when bad things happen.

As Ashley in this story reminded me, "Good and bad times were a part of life. As her dad always said: 'This too shall pass.' And through the years that had been true. Nothing stayed the same, except this: God's faithfulness, and the love they had for each other." And as God's Word also reminds me, "Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness" (Lam. 3:22-23). I will walk away from this series with a great appreciation for the Baxter family and an even greater appreciation for my Lord. ( )
  judyg54 | Jul 13, 2012 |
Facing the reality of a bitter battle with her adopted girls’ birth mother, Candy, Erin Baxter is still able to focus on living life as a beacon for Jesus in word and in action. All three girls were vulnerable to an open adoption loophole that could allow the recently released but unrehabilitated felon back into their lives. How could Candy be allowed visitation rights when under her care the girls were witness to drug deals, subjected to physical abuse, and offered up for sale? Her fear of the situation was great, but the object of her unmistakable confidence was clear. Whatever lay ahead, it would be okay, because God was in control. God, with whom she had an intimate relationship, could be trusted to act on their behalf in great love. On impulse, at the last minute before she and her family left Texas to join siblings in a surprise birthday party in Indiana, Erin checked her Facebook account for recent posts. Could this post to her wall be the answer to her prayers to protect her girls from Candy? Erin may well have the key to preventing such a travesty, but she would have plenty of time to share that information with authorities after they returned from their trip.
Road construction. Stalled traffic. An eighteen-wheeler. A sleepy driver.
John’s suspicions grew steadily, nearly certain that a party was in the making in honor of his birthday. Numerous sirens wailing during his drive to the anticipated celebration were troubling, but not nearly so much as the phone call he received as he reached Ashley’s home. An accident, his friend said; a member of John’s family. Exercise haste getting there. With heaviness of heart, he entered the house, but all were accounted for. All who could come that far, that is. Still, his pale appearance brought concern to his children. As he relayed the mistaken message to his family, the silent communications between siblings gave way to the dawning of an unwelcome reality. Someone from their family was not yet there.
Sometimes details sidetrack us in our journey through life. And sometimes, we get completely derailed by life altering events. Sudden grievous loss. Heart-wrenching decisions. Every step, every breath requires solid support only found in God. Through each moment, the reader accompanies the family as they express their pleas, shed their tears, and demonstrate remarkable faith and love. Our own strength grows as we witness intimate prayers as their first response, and as we hear the comfort of His promises, even when shaken to the core. Sometimes they are only whispers, and sometimes they seem audible, but He speaks, granting us a firm footing in the most tumultuous of events. His love is unmistakable, and His arms underneath are undeniable.
This was my first Karen Kingsbury novel, but will definitely not be my last. Kingsbury introduced each character with such skill that I felt I had been acquainted with them for years. I fell in love with each of the Baxter family members. Though flawed, as we all are, the Baxter’s resilient faith carries them through the direst of circumstances. Keeping a perspective that includes there and then as well as here and now, the Baxter family knows how to do life right. This is a story of extreme faith, enviable were it not for the circumstances, but nevertheless, believable. It pulls at your heartstrings, creating a desire to live that kind of faith first-hand. This truly is Life-Changing Fiction.
This Kindle version was a gift from Zondervan via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. ( )
  mmeckenstock | Jun 29, 2012 |
In my personal opinion, if a book can make me feel emotion so deeply that I feel a part of the story, it's a winner! This one, moved me to tears many, many times and shows just how we go about dealing with loss as a Christian in a world where all we want is answers to the question why.

In Karen Kingsbury's latest novel, Coming Home, the reader is immediately invited to join the Baxter family as Ashley, one of the daughters, begins to make plans for her father's seventieth birthday party. Like most family's that are grown and beginning families of their own, it is hard to coordinate a surprise for her dad, John with all his kids present but that is exactly what Ashley has planned. They all want to surprise their dad and be present to show him just how much they all love and care about him, even though they all lost their mom to cancer a few years ago. John has since remarried and doesn't expect anything more than an invitation to attend a bar-b-que with Ashley and her family.

Not expecting all her brothers and sisters and their families to be able to be there, Ashley's husband, Landon suggests that each of them should write a letter to their dad explaining what he means to each of them. They could read the letters out loud at the birthday celebration and each of them share how much their father's life has impacted them. They all agree to do this and set to work on their own personal letters.

Much to Ashley's surprise, all of her brothers, sisters and their families make plans to be there moments before her father and his wife show up, and all agree to do their best to keep it a secret. They all are touched that the man who has impacted their personal lives will receive the ultimate surprise that day, unfortunately it will not be the surprise any of them ever expected. You'll have to read this one to know the outcome of the story and see just how their own personal faith will be tested.

I received Coming Home by Karen Kingsbury compliments of Zondervan Publishers and NetGalley for my honest review. This is my second time experiencing a Karen Kingsbury first and if you never have, you have to try one. It is truly a life changing experience. There is a safe harbor to be sitting in while watching a family go through one of the most challenging and difficult times for anyone but being a family of believers in Christ, makes this one truly unique to watch and feel. This is a true testament to the faith of a believer in Christ and what lies behind this life when we breathe our last. I think Karen did an exceptional job at bringing the Baxter family series to a beautiful conclusion. Even though I haven't read any books in the series, I immediately felt like I already belonged to this wonderful family. You can pick this one up and begin the experience all over again, it's such a perfect stand alone story!

This book rates for me, a 5 out of 5 stars. Not only did it increase my own personal faith through this book, but it strengthen me, to understand how it all plays out so eloquently together, with hope, unconditional love, and an eternal future promised to all who believe in Jesus Christ. That this life will not end when we leave this world. ( )
  ReviewsFromTheHeart | Jun 10, 2012 |
Showing 5 of 5
This was another heart-wrenching book from Karen Kingsbury! I will try my best not to add any spoilers until the end. :)

This book was not at all what I expected it to be. As I stated in my review for the Bailey Flanigan series, I've been following the Baxter family since the beginning of time. If this is your introduction to the Baxters, and you read this as a stand-alone book like the description says, then you'll probably just view it as a drama you could read for a good cry. As for me, like the Bailey Flanigan series, it goes a bit further than that.

Karen Kingsbury has been one of my favorite Christian authors for a very long time and I would recommend most of her books to anyone because they reach the reader straight to the heart. They are so real. I know that Karen is transitioning to a new publisher, and I'm beginning to wonder if perhaps they are requiring her to write more books in less time. Since the Bailey series it seems like her books have become rushed and far away from what made them real and wonderful. Coming Home is a good read, and I feel like Karen reached some of her roots again. Although, the parts with Bailey and Brandon still made me cringe! I tried to get through them as fast as possible so I didn't have to go through that despair all over again!

So, Coming Home. Although it took up some space in the beginning, I liked the recollection of everyone's pasts and how they got to where they are. That was nice for nostalgia's sake, and it's also nice for new readers who need some of the back-story. It was heart-felt and reconnected the characters with the story and each other. As for the events that took place after that, I understand tragedy happens when we least expect it, and it was another journey Karen took us through the life of the Baxters. I think the worst part about it, is that this wasn't just another book within the series, it was supposed to be the wrap-up for the entire series. Honestly, I just don't think is was a good way to wrap it all up to a close. It felt unfinished. It felt like there needed to be more, and it felt like it ended way too soon. Perhaps she has yet another Baxter installment up her sleeve, but I just didn't find this to be a good ending to the entirety of the Baxters.

****WARNING - SPOILERS****

In the beginning it seemed like such a big deal to be celebrating John Baxter's birthday with everyone writing letters to him. The direction I expected this book to go was something was going to happen to John Baxter and he would pass away, "going home." When I entered into this book, I was thinking that actually would have been a great way to wrap up the journey we've taken with the Baxters, because in a way, it all started with John and Elizabeth. However, it was so far away from that and in the end, all those letters and John's birthday didn't seem quite as important as we entered into the story thinking they were. It was kind of disappointing. It also seemed out of place and inconsistent to kill off an entire family (or I guess "sub-family") the way Karen did. Like I said before, it all felt incomplete. I miss Karen's old writing, and from other reviews I see that I'm not the only one.

****END SPOILERS****

So if you're looking for a tear-jerker and you haven't read any other books by Karen, this is a pretty good book. If I hadn't read them all I would probably give it 4.5 stars. But because I have, I have to give it 3.5. I would advise that you start from the "Redemption" series, because those are all top-notch.
 
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0310266246, Paperback)

Coming Home is a novel about tremendous victory and unprecedented loss, a story of faith and a forever kind of love, love that will stay with you long after the last page. This stand-alone novel will serve as either a grand introduction or a beautiful conclusion in the saga of the Baxter Family. The Baxters make plans to come together for a summer lakeside reunion, a celebration like they haven't had in years. But before the big day, the unthinkable happens. As the Baxter Family rallies together, memories come to light in the grief-stricken hours of waiting and praying, memories that bring healing and hope during a time when otherwise darkness might have the final word. In a season that changes all of them, the brilliance of family love overshadows even the valley of heartache as the Baxters draw closer to God and each other. Along the way, secrets are revealed and the truth about the Baxter Family history is finally made known. Ultimately, in this portrait of family love, the Baxters cling to each other and to God's promise of forever.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:46:49 -0400)

As the Baxters make plans to come together for a summer lakeside reunion, the unthinkable happens, the family rallies together, and memories come to light that bring healing and hope during a time when darkness might have the final word.

(summary from another edition)

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