At first I wasn't sure I would like Hope Springs by Kim Cash Tate.
First chapters seemed too light, and I thought I would be reading a predictable romance despite there being a large gathering of characters. But as the characters settled into their extended stays in the Hope Springs community, author Tate exposed some deeper issues to her readers. Todd Dillon, who has come home for his pastor father's funeral, contemplates an offer to take over his father's ministry at Calvery Church. His trip to Hope Springs gives him an opportunity to reconnect with his childhood best friend Travis who pastors the large black congregation down the street at New Jerusalem.
Travis deeply cares for his flock, especially Grandma Geri, one of the congregation's pillars. Geri's family, the Sanders have always been close to their white neighbors, the Dillons, and so many of Geri's grandchildren have come to grieve with Todd and his family. It is this "enlightened" friendship between the races that Tate holds up to the light through the rest of the book. Despite decade old neighborhood friendships, the black community and the white community do not worship together on a regular basis. It will be a off-the-cuff Bible study at the local cafe started by cousin Janelle that will bring the women of both races together in a meaningful way. And as Geri's family gathers round her following an announcement of a serious illness, she reveals a family secret that will forever change the Dillons and Sanders families.
I ended up liking the book mainlt because of the bigger issues that underscore the story. I also liked the large cast which gave the author much to write about and much for me to follow. Todd's wife who appears to be a successful Christian speaker undergoes some significant reflection and rethinking of her life. Stephanie, a young married who admits that she struggles against any call to put others first in her life, comes to cherish time with her grandma and cousins. Soon she is reaping the rewards of selflessness. Janelle, still deep in grief over the death of her young husband, finds she is in the position to be with Grandma Geri as her health deteriorates, but that puts her in the pathway of an old flame. Another cousin Libby remains caught up in an empty lifestyle, but her trips to Hope Springs and the safety of extended family become more frequent. I am sure another Hope Springs novel will follow -- romance and a happy ending finds one of the cousins, but not another. More stories remain to be told. I received an e-copy of this title for review purposes.
All opinions are mine.