~ About the Book ~
Realizing you’re a spinster is one thing; understanding what that means and how to handle it is another. And it would seem Jolene, Uli, and Catie still have a ways to go before they truly comprehend what God is trying to show them not only in their desire to marry but in their longing to have children of their own.
As one relationship ends and another begins, Jolene Woods realizes she needs to finally deal with the guilt and regret of her past if she’s ever going to move on. And so she embarks on a journey she hopes will bring forgiveness … but may, in fact, only lead to more regret. Did she forever destroy her chance to be a mother in her youth?
Uli Odell has her own journey, though it’s more of an escape from the pain and embarrassment of a broken engagement. She ends up at her mother’s home in Iowa, separated from her friends and desperate for money. But there are some problems she just can’t run away from.
Though Catie’s heart is in a stronger place since she met God on a mountain three months ago, she still doesn’t have answers to many of her questions. Then the possibility of an unhealthy relationship and the reality of a life-altering medical diagnosis make her wonder if she’s figured out anything at all.
As their lives head off in different directions, each of these friends will need God—and each other—to find their way to healing.
~ Excerpt ~
Sometimes all I want is a chance to start over. Not just with recent mistakes but with life. A series of potential do-overs scrolls through my brain as I add more concealer to cover the bags under my eyes—a natural consequence of a nightmare-filled sleep before the alarm went off at 6 a.m. so I could get to Easter breakfast on time.
Once again I had that dream. The one I’ve had periodically for most of my life, with minor variations. Always the baby crying. Lost. Pleading. And me, desperate and searching and powerless to do anything about it.
Much like thirty years ago. Only I wasn’t powerless. Just ignorant and immature and confused enough to destroy my own child. Twice. And now…
Stop it, Jolene.
But I can’t. The truth of my choice has haunted me for so long, but lately the grief has hit me with such force, I feel it compelling me to action. If only I knew what action that should be.
~ My Review ~
You may remember I did a book spotlight a couple of weeks ago for the novel Spinstered, by Sharyn Kopf. (If you missed it, you can find it here.) Today I’m reviewing the second novel in the series, Inconceived, which continues the stories of Catie, Jolene, and Uli: three over-forty women who are still unmarried and wondering what, if anything, they’re supposed to do about it. I do recommend that you read Spinstered first, and I will try to avoid giving spoilers for that novel in this review!
The first thing that struck me about this series was the engaging first person narrative that drew me straight into the heart and mind of each of the three characters. Regardless of how different my own circumstances are, it created an immediate emotional connection with these women that has only strengthened as I have walked through their stories with them, sometimes smiling at their wry observations and sometimes aching for the honesty and vulnerability they shared directly with the reader.
While there are developments in the stories of all three women over the course of the novel, Inconceived focuses more on Jolene, a not-so-young woman of Caribbean descent who grew up in a large family in the South. She runs Cocoon House (a home for women who are transitioning out of prison life), so she’s used to dealing with other people’s emotional baggage, but her own emotional baggage caught up with her at the end of Spinstered and she can’t run away from it any more. It takes her on a poignant journey—more so because of who walks it with her—and was a beautiful way of working through the emotional and physical repercussions of the choices she had made in her youth. If you are inclined to be an empathetic crier, you may want to have a tissue or two on hand!
I should add I was no less engaged in the developments in Catie and Uli’s lives, both of whom are still struggling in different ways with their spinsterhood and their desire for a husband. Regardless of whether the reader has been in similar circumstances as these women, at the core, their struggles are universal: Is our happiness found in God, or in our circumstances? Have we wandered away from God in our attempt to satisfy our needs outside of Him?
The final novel in this series is yet to be released, but I will be eagerly awaiting the conclusion to these women’s stories. I’m fairly hopeful for at least one wedding in there!
~ About the Author ~
Sharyn Kopf didn’t discover her voice until she found a way to turn grief into hope. For her, that meant realizing it was okay to be sad about her singleness. In doing so, she was finally able to move past her grief and find hope in God.
It also meant writing about the heartaches and hopes of being an older single woman. She published her first novel, Spinstered, in 2014, and a companion nonfiction version titled Spinstered: Surviving Singleness After 40 in 2015. Her work has also appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul and Splickety Love magazine.
Besides writing and speaking, Sharyn is an editor and marketing professional. She loves to connect with readers and singles on Facebook or email and has plans to start a monthly newsletter soon. In her spare time, she enjoys goofing off with her nieces and nephews, making—and eating!—the best fudge ever, long hikes through the woods, and playing the piano.
Review by Katie Donovan