cover image What She Left for Me

What She Left for Me

Tracie Peterson, . . Bethany, $19.99 (352pp) ISBN 978-0-7642-0099-1

Adultery, incest, drugs, attempted suicide, foster parent abuse, murder, rape—these and other traumas feature in this latest from a bestselling Christian author. When the pregnant Jana McGuire returns from a mission trip, she's stunned to find that her husband, a pastor, has run off with his secretary and cleaned out her bank account. Angry and grieving, she moves to Montana to live with her estranged and unbelievably heartless mother, Eleanor, and quirky octogenarian aunt Taffy, the most likable character in the book. Peterson explains Eleanor's cruelty with flashback chapters to her childhood on a commune. Although Eleanor's incestuous relationship with her father in these flashback chapters is the axis of the story, much of what occurs feels vaguely like filler. Wooden emotions ("Why is this happening?") and Christian clichés abound. When Jana asks the "other woman" to have Thanksgiving dinner with her as an act of forgiveness, readers may find the plot twist difficult to swallow. Some victims of incest may appreciate the story as a vehicle for emotional healing, but it falls short of skilled fiction. (Oct.)