Take a poignant look into the broken heart and daily struggles of Christian college dean Drew McKinley. The story chronicles the turbulent first year in his desperate journey to understand God’s motives for the sudden death of his wife and his quest to find hope in his future.
Crossing his perilous path are Allison, a graduate student and new employee in the dean’s office, and Chris, the handsome but egotistical student senate president.
The road Drew must navigate is fraught with career upheaval, a reawakening heart and the struggle for forgiveness and restoration. Will Drew finish his journey to embrace the hope God offers, the love Allison shares and the guidance Chris needs, or will he turn his back on all three with catastrophic consequences?
Not only is Janell Butler Wojtowicz a new author to me, but Embracing Hope is her debut novel. However, you would never guess this is a debut novel, as she writes like a seasoned author.
The two main characters are Drew McKinley, dean of a Christian college and Allison Bennett, a graduate student and new hire for the dean’s office. In addition, there are various other significant characters. The book is written in a realistic, true to life form and doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to some unusually heavy topics. Alcoholism, child abuse, assault and the loss of a spouse are among the horrific issues that leave us reeling.
Written in an authentic, no-holds-barred manner, Embracing Hope allows us, as readers, to experience the emotions and lives of the individuals in the story. Wojtowicz portrays her characters’ actions and reactions to what life and God mete out in a realistic and genuine way. They question God, become angry at Him and angry at others and they wonder if life is worth living at all. Reading Embracing Hope, we, too, think and feel the thoughts and emotions that all but extinguish hope.
Hope is not extinguished for Drew, Allison, and others we meet and come to love. Biblical gems and lessons are interspersed throughout the book through the wise counsel of friends and pastors. We listen to their conversations and we hear God calling us to forgive and come to terms with our anger.
I would caution that Embracing Hope contains some violent scenes some will find tough to read and process. I did. I had to skip through several pages that were too triggering for me. I have old memories of an assault and recent memories of an injury-laden fall, and this book is truly evocative of real life.
I received this book from Reads & Reels & R&R Book Tours. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.
To help promote Janell’s fabulous novel, R&R Book Tours is giving away one (1) eBook copy of Embracing Hope. Click the link below to enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway.
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Janell Butler Wojtowicz, born and raised on an Iowa farm, was one of those kids who loved to write the dreaded “What I did on summer vacation” essay. She wrote stories for her own enjoyment, including a short story about a teenage drug addict—something of which she knew nothing about. Her cousin illustrated the cover using Halloween orange paper featuring a hypodermic needle.
Janell attended the University of Northwestern in St. Paul, Minnesota, earning a bachelor’s degree in, naturally, Written Communication, adding a Journalism Emphasis. She returned to Iowa where she worked as a reporter/editor at three small town newspapers for 10 years.
Janell left the small town Iowa life when she married, Frank Wojtowicz, a family friend who lived in Minneapolis. (By the way, her Polish last name is pronounced “Why-tow-vitch.) She worked in public relations at her alma mater, the University of Northwestern; Leadership Foundations, a nonprofit organization supporting inner-city Christian ministries; and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. Today, Janell owns a freelance service, A Portrait in Words, and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America.
Much of Janell’s writing has been the “people stories” of trial, tragedy and triumph, which are reflected in her debut novel, “Embracing Hope.” The idea for the novel came after watching a BBC version of “Jane Eyre” in 2007. That night she dreamed the beginning, pivotal scene in the middle and the ending of “Embracing Hope”, and began writing it the next day. Unlike her first story, she was very familiar with the setting of “Embracing Hope”: a Christian college campus.
She and Frank, live in New Brighton, Minnesota, a pleasant suburb of the Twin Cities. She has two step-sons, a step-daughter-in-law, and three step-granddaughters.
Blog Tour: Embracing Hope by Janell Butler Wojtowicz
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