Folks are dying fast as the ash trees in the southern Indiana town ravaged by the heroin epidemic…
…where Jaycee Givens lives with nothing more than a thread of hope and a quirky neighbor, Sudie, who rescues injured wildlife. After a tragedy leaves her mother in prison, Jaycee is carrying grief and an unplanned pregnancy she conceals because she trusts no one, including the kind and handsome Gabe, who is new to town and to the local diner where she works.
Dividing her time between the diner and Sudie’s place, Jaycee nurses her broken heart among a collection of unlikely friends who are the closest thing to family that she has. Eventually, she realizes she can’t hide her pregnancy any longer—not even from the baby’s abusive father, who is furious when he finds out. The choices she must make for the safety of her unborn child threaten to derail any chance she ever had for hope and redemption. Ultimately, Jaycee must decide whether the truest form of love means hanging on or letting go.
Sometimes when I read a really impactful story, I make a note of the author and keep an eye out for any future publications. Amy K. Sorrells was added to this short list after I read her novel, Lead Me Home. Sorrells has a unique voice and I appreciate how she takes believers to task without getting preachy. This new story, Before I Saw You, takes place in a small town in Southern Indiana caught up in the hope-crushing, life-shattering grip of the opioid crisis. While grieving over the destruction of her family, Jaycee becomes pregnant and questions whether adoption would provide the best chance for her baby’s future.
Sorrells attends to every detail of this story. She draws upon her experience as a nurse to add credibility and gravity to scenes, adds interesting details about Sudie’s hobby of animal rehabilitation, gives each secondary character a purpose, and carefully balances her main character’s head voice (thoughts and prayers) with her interpersonal dialogue. By far, however, my favorite detail is the growth and maturity of Jaycee’s faith. This comes by a variety of means—the Word preached, personal prayer, and godly counsel.
The other aspect of the story I thoroughly enjoyed was what I believe to be a call to action (much like I saw in the author’s previous book). Through Jaycee’s story, readers get a glimpse of how the church can have a positive impact on our communities. As a body, we should be extending grace to repentant sinners and welcoming them into or back into the fold. Additionally, we are reminded to heed the Great Commission and “go” out to rescue the lost instead of retreating into the safety and comfort of our Christian communities. As individuals, committing to disciple and encourage one, two, or many people. While the congregation in this story seems to be on the right track, these principles were best lived out through Jaycee’s neighbor, Sudie. It was this older woman to whom Jaycee could speak about her mother’s addiction, how her boyfriend mistreated her, and the new life growing inside her. This story tugged at my heart and stirred me to action. It’s impossible to read it and walk away unmoved.
ICYMI: I shared a little about how this story touched me on Instagram last week.
Has a book ever stirred you to action?
I’m reading a novel by @amyksorrells in which the main character, Jaycee, is contemplating putting her child up for adoption. I have 100 pages left to go, but instead of finishing the story this morning I called our local Crisis Pregnancy Center and asked them what their needs were. The director told me she would really love for someone to come in and clean. They’ve been so busy that they haven’t had the time to clean the center well. So instead of reading, Taylor and I went up and cleaned that place from top to bottom! 🍼🍼🍼🍼🍼🍼 In the past, I had been a volunteer in the center. During that time I met a young woman (17) who was abortion-minded when she came in. When she chose life, I was the one assigned to teach her parenting classes. Our friendship grew right along with her belly. Then in the summer, when her child was born prematurely, I visited the young family in the NICU. After two months in the hospital, they finally got to go home. Within a month, my friend called to tell me her boyfriend didn’t want to be a daddy and that she wanted information on adoption. I put her in contact with the Crisis Pregnancy Center’s director who helped her connect with an adoption agency. I had been out in public when I got the call, so I retreated to my van. When I hung up the phone, I had an ugly cry before pulling myself together and driving home. I was so invested in this sweet girl that my heart broke for her and the decision she was contemplating. Amy’s character Sudie tells Jayce, “You got a chance, child. You may not have had a choice in this, but you can give your baby a chance. It’s up to you to decide what the best chance for him will be.” My friend wanted the best chance for her baby and she was willing to endure excruciating heartache to ensure she got it. I hope you’ll read Jaycee’s story in Before I Saw You.