Book review: 'Delivering Hope' looks at making inspired choices

By Emily Johnson

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, March 17 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

"DELIVERING HOPE," by Jennifer Ann Holt, Bonneville Books, $14.99, 224 pages (f)

There are few experiences that can both be so desired by many and so unexpected by others as pregnancy and motherhood. In "Delivering Hope," a new novel by Jennifer Ann Holt, readers enter the lives of two sets of families, who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who find their life journeys become intertwined through sacrifice, love, faith and motherhood.

The story, told in two parts, first introduces readers to Olivia and Michael Spencer. The Spencers are a seemingly happy, young married couple. Yet, they privately struggle with continued fertility problems. As the toil of years of testing and unanswered dreams continue, both Olivia and Michael suffer individually, and as a couple, to cope with and understand their pain.

Among their Mormon ward gossips, know-it-alls and family members, the Spencers learn to turn toward each other and toward heaven. From anguish, heartbreak and anger, Olivia comes to greater understanding through developing her relationship with Jesus Christ. The novel also portrays the pain and helplessness husbands feel through Michael's private anguish and lack of support as he tries to ease his wife's aching heart and his own disappointments.

The second part of the novel is about Allison Campbell, a recent high school graduate who discovers that she is pregnant. Allison navigates through the consequences of her actions, amid her personal disappointment, her family's disbelief, the ward busybodies, her friends and the baby's father. As Allison progresses in her pregnancy, she turns to the healing power of the Atonement for relief, peace and guidance.

Holt has crafted a sensitive but honest portrait of the pains and agony of both the lack of a child and the unplanned arrival of one. She deftly creates characters and situations that are based in real life, with depth and full range of emotions. She also includes, through "well-meaning" characters, how gossip, judgement and ignorance can damage other people.

"Delivering Hope" is a must-read for anyone struggling with the complexity of the choices, decisions and emotions that these two families face. It also is an important read for those who need to understand and serve those in these situations as the Savior would. But even beyond that, it is an inspiring book that delivers on its name, for it is inspiring for all that struggle with their own trials, to turn to the true source of healing and joy: Jesus Christ.

if you go ...

What: Jennifer Holt speaking

When: Tuesday, March 27, 7-8 p.m.

Where: Enterprise Branch, Washington County Library System, 393 S. 200 East, Enterprise

and ...

What: Jennifer Holt book signing

When: Thursday, March 29, 6-7:30 p.m.

Where: Barnes and Noble, Rainbow Promenade, 2191 N. Rainbow Blvd., Las Vegas

Web: barnesandnoble.com

also ...

When: Friday, March 30, 5-6:30 p.m.

Where: Deseret Book, Cedar City Store, 1420 S. Providence Center Dr., Ste. 1, Cedar City

Web: deseretbook.com

also ...

When: Saturday, March 31, 6-8 p.m.

Where: Deseret Book, St. George, 735 S. Bluff (next to Kmart), St. George

Web: deseretbook.com

also ...

When: Friday, April 13, noon-2 p.m.

Where: South Orem Seagull Book, 331 E. University Pkwy., Orem

also ...

When: Saturday, April 14, 1-3 p.m.

Where: Orem Seagull Book, 111 S. State St., Orem

Emily Johnson earned her Master of Professional Communication degree from Westminster College. She enjoys profiling unique people doing interesting things.

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