One of my favorite Emily Dickinson poem's is "Hope is the thing with feathers" which compares hope to a tiny bird tossed about during a tumultuous storm, but who never quits singing. Christian (and Wisconsin) author Cynthia Ruchti tells a similar story in her new book A FRAGILE HOPE.
Josiah Chamberlain has made his life repairing other people's marriages through his writing and his lectures. Ever observant and perceptive of human behavior, especially in regards to couples, Josiah has completely lost contact with his own marriage. So when he receives news that his wife Karin has been in a car accident, that the driver of her car was a man and the husband of a friend, and that his wife is now in a coma, Josiah's world begins to spin and his mind begins to question everything.
When he learns that the man has died and that Karin is pregnant with a child that Josiah is certain cannot be his, the storm of his life bashes him like the tiny bird in the Dickinson poem.
Josiah feels a great betrayal, yet he cannot walk away from that tiny heartbeat the nurses have let him hear and from the wife he still loves. A tiny hope remains and through the foggy, tumultuous weeks that follow, that hope is fed by the faith of a stranger in the ICU family room, his grieving father-in-law, and an unorthodox new doctor. Throughout the book wife Karin's thoughts are shared in two ways - one, through the greeting card sentiments, drawn from her SEEDLINGS AND SENTIMENT business, that start each chapter and from her infrequent coma-bound "thoughts" which we are privy to, but are not understood by anyone else.
As always, Ruchti, a master storyteller, unfolds a story layered with unforgettable characters and meaning that will have readers thinking about our own lives, especially our relationships with our family and our faith. While most of us have never experienced that awful nightmare of a loved one teetering for weeks and months between life and persistent vegetative state, we have may have walked in our own foggy darkness over a real or perceived betrayal. We may have let that betrayal color our lives in permanent gloom, or like, Josiah, we may have let the tiny bird of hope find a resting place. For Josiah, the knowledge that He (Jesus) was on that night (night of the Last Supper) betrayed and yet remained among those He loved, to do what God had called Him to do, is the truth he cannot reject. Holding on to that kernel of faith, Josiah finds a fragile bit of hope and faces his new life -- no longer the modern world's expert on love and marriage, but merely a husband loving his wife, even when his questions have no answers.
I received an advanced reader's copy of this title. All opinions are mine.