Saturday, September 21, 2013

Chasing Hope by Kathryn Cushman

A story of shattered dreams and second chances
A talented runner fully committed to Olympic dreams, Sabrina Rice’s future was shattered by a devastating diagnosis. One forfeited scholarship and several years later, she has new goals and dreams that have nothing to do with running–something that’s become far too painful to think on.
Until the day she sees Brandy Philip running across the community college campus, easily outpacing security. Sabrina immediately recognizes world-class speed, and it’s all the more painful that it belongs to a teenage graffiti artist.
When a chance encounter brings the two young women together, Sabrina becomes Brandy’s best hope for staying out of juvenile hall. Soon, Sabrina begins to feel an uncomfortable nudge that her new life is just about to be toppled…that God may be calling her to minister to this talented but troubled girl.

Continuing my trek for doing reviews that will garner more interest, I picked up the latest novel by Kathryn Cushman.  Little did I know just how much this book wasn't going to be a normal Christian Fiction novel, but was going to be one that I would thoroughly enjoy.

What do you get when you cross an Olympic-oriented runner with a teenager who spends her time running from the law?  You get a terrific story of Sabrina and Brandy.  Sabrina spent her high school days making a name for herself as being a first-class runner and someone who is destined for the Olympics.  Unfortunately, health issues cause he to give up her dreams.  Enter Brandy who doesn't have a good history of making right decisions, except for how to run from the police.  As a favor to the grandmothers, Sabrina agrees to coach Brandy and try to turn this wayward youth onto a life that is filled with potential.  Will Brandy let Sabrina into her life enough to inspire her in the right direction?  Pick up your own copy and go BUY THE BOOK!

This book shows us that even when we feel we know His plans, there's nothing ever written in stone.  The author does a great job of weaving the desires of the characters along the story line, giving you insight into their thoughts.  I always enjoy reading books that take the characters on different journeys, once that lead them far away from where they expect to travel.  I enjoy this because it gives me, the reader, the chance to see how amazing a life can be when we let Him be in charge.  The author does a great job of showing that our lives can be so much more fulfilling when we surrender to Him and let Him guide us instead of trying to do everything on our own accord.

Is this a guy's book?  This book is so much more than how it first appears.  While it is not overtly a "guy's book" because there's not much in the way of adventure, explosions, gun fights or car chases, it is definitely a book that everybody needs to read.  This is the type of book that you should pass along to everyone that you know, because everyone can get something from this book.

 Q&A With the Author (Provided by Bethany House Publishing)

1. Can you tell us about your latest novel, Chasing Hope?
It’s about a young woman with Olympic dreams and concrete plans for her future. She
worked hard, honored God, and did everything right. Then a devastating diagnosis took
everything from her. A few years later, she meets a young girl with unmistakable talent, but
who has definitely fallen short in the area of “doing everything the right way.” She also
desperately needs Sabrina’s help. It’s a story of the unfairness of life, chronic illness, and
looking to God for your hope, even in the darkest times.

2. Did you do any special research for this book?
Yes. A lot of this book is about running. I’ve never been a runner, but I took it up while I
was writing this book. After I sent in my first draft, my editor said, “I think you’ve done a
nice job of showing the pain of running. Can we have a little something about the joy of
running or runner’s high?” I basically said, “I haven’t reached that point in my research yet.”

3. This book deals with chronic illness in a young person. How did you make that realistic? 
One of my daughters suffers with chronic illness and pain. There is nothing that Sabrina
experienced that my daughter has not experienced (actually, Sabrina had it quite a bit easier
than the true story). This is the one part of the story that I wrote with complete confidence,
because I’ve been living it for the past six years.

4. What is the over-arching spiritual theme for this book? 
We often believe we hear God calling us to do something, but when things get hard, it’s easy
to decide we misunderstood God and quit. I paralleled the Children of Israel and their
journey to the Promised Land. We often put them down for being ungrateful whiners, but
the truth is, they went THREE DAYS WITHOUT WATER. God’s call doesn’t mean that
everything will be easy.

5. This is your 7th novel. Does it get easier with each progressive story?
No! Actually, one of the reasons I chose this particular theme was to remind myself that
God’s call doesn’t mean it won’t be hard. For me, it seems that each story gets a little harder
to write than the one before. It’s a constant and daily walk of faith to get words on the page.

6. This book also shows the importance of having someone who believes in you. Sabrina 
became that person for Brandy, and Sabrina’s mother was that person for her. How 
important do you perceive this kind of support to be? 
I think it’s critical. One of my early readers described an underlying theme of this book
as “about being the person that stands between someone and the cliff when everyone else
looks away.” Sabrina experienced this because of chronic illness, and Brandy experienced it
because of acting out brought on by an unfortunate childhood. The importance of a “gap”
person cannot be overestimated. When the world gives up on a person, one small action can
make a huge difference.


I graduated from Samford University with a degree in pharmacy, but all my life I knew that I wanted to write a novel “some day”. For me, “some day” came in 2003, when I started writing and never looked back.
My first two manuscripts remain firmly ensconced in the back of my closet (the dust bunnies tell me they really are terrific!). My third attempt became my first published novel.
People often ask me where I get my characters and if I base them on real people. The answer to that is: sometimes. Most characters have a little bit of someone I know in them. I use a lot of friend’s and family member’s names in my books, but I never write the character anything like their namesake.
For instance—in my books a middle-aged mother and a twenty-something pharmacist sh
ared names with my daughters, and a seventyish-year-old man shared a name with my fiftyish-year-old husband.
The one exception I make to this rule is my pets. Dusty the dog made a cameo appearance as himself in Waiting for Daybreak, Boots the cat made his debut in Leaving Yesterday, and Popcorn the turtle is incognito as a horse in Almost Amish.
Chance the new dog is still anxiously awaiting his turn for momentary fame—rumor has it, the dog has hired an agent.
On the homefront, I’ve been married to the wonderful and handsome Lee for over twenty-five years now, and our two daughters are currently braving the worlds of high school and college.
We’ve lived in Santa Barbara for over twenty years. It’s a beautiful place and I feel blessed to be here (although a seventy degree Christmas still leaves me dreaming of a white one—or at least a colder one!)
When I’m not writing or reading or braving seventy degree holidays, you’ll find me trying my best to keep up with my daughters in their filled-with-activity lives.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

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