A Promise in Pieces is a novel from a series called Quilts of Love. Its author is Emily T. Wierenga, and it just so happens that this is Emily's debut novel.
It’s been more than 50 years since Clara cared for injured WWII soldiers in the Women’s Army Corp. Fifty years since she promised to deliver a dying soldier’s last wish. And 50 years since that soldier’s young widow gave her the baby quilt—a grief-ridden gift that would provide hope to countless newborns in the years to come. On her way to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Clara decides it’s time to share her story. But when the trip doesn’t go as planned, Clara wonders if anyone will learn the great significance of the quilt—and the promise stitched inside it.
Like I said at the beginning, this was a different type of novel than what I'm used to reading. That's not a bad thing. When I first began reading, I was excited, because I love World War II fiction. I had a feeling that I knew where the story was going to go. I was completely wrong! The story is written mostly in first person point of view (though third person is also present), and it was done very well. The story also very deftly ping-ponged from 1940s/1950s to the year 2000.
The main character Clara very obviously had trouble nailing down her beliefs and her understanding on what her life's purpose was. She was an only child to a nervous mother and a controlling father, and leaving them to become a nurse in war-stricken France was a harsh blow to her family. She had issues with self-worth after a man died under her care. When she came back home with a written goodbye letter for the man's wife, she found herself with a load of feelings she couldn't quite pinpoint and an empty feeling. She struggled with what to do with herself after she arrived home. When she made the decision to become a midwife, she found herself smack-dab in the middle of life's troubles. The town was filled with widows, families whose war-beaten men were left with anxiety and drinking problems. And to beat it all, there was a baby boom going on. Watching what the women were going through, Clara decided that she couldn't fall in love because she didn't want to feel the pain of losing someone she loved.
All of this story was being told in current-day year 2000 to her family as they were travelling to Louisiana. Clara, an elderly woman, shared her story with her family as the miles went on. Then real life drama escapades as they arrive in Louisiana and Clara has to put the past behind her and accept her new way of life, which is filled with grief and sadness.
This was a novel that left me confused at times. It felt jumbled, and sometimes I just didn't like where the story was going. Sometimes I felt like the story wasn't complete, like things were left out that should have been there--like I was only given part of the tale. At one point, I was even wondering if Emily had been given a page limit or if an editor had suggested she remove missing pieces that really should have remained. In all honesty, this novel has the feel of a 350-page book. In my opinion, it should have been much longer to have allowed a lot more to come from Clara. I felt like more could have been shared about her time in France. I felt like more could have been fleshed out with her time with Oliver. This story had a lot of potential, and I feel like it just deflated at the end.
With that said, I thoroughly enjoyed how Emily wrote. There was a lot of emotion, she captured feelings quite well, and the storytelling was good. She captured POV quite well, and I look forward to a lot more from Emily Wierenga. I just hope that next time maybe she can write a 350-page novel! I believe she's got it in her!
About the Author Emily T. Wierenga is a former editor, ghostwriter, freelance writer and staff journalist. She was a monthly columnist for The Christian Courier and has written for numerous Christian publications including Focus on the Family, In Touch and Today’s Christian Woman. Wierenga is the author of three previously released non-fiction titles: Save My Children: The Story of a Father's Love, Chasing Silhouettes: How to help a Loved One Battling an Eating Disorder, and Mom in the Mirror: Body Image, Beauty and Life After Pregnancy. Her memoir, Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I thought to Look, will release July 1, 2014. A Promise in Pieces is her first novel. In July 2013, Wierenga wrote a letter on her blog to Kate Middleton on the postpartum body. The post went viral, receiving more than half a million views in one week, and was shared by Dove. Currently, Wierenga is a blogger for the World Help Organization.
Wierenga speaks at women’s retreats, universities, churches and conferences, about
her journey with anorexia nervosa and was one of the keynote speakers at the premiere Christian eating disorders conference, Hungry for Hope 2013. She serves as an Official Ambassador for FINDINGbalance and is a Navigator with the National Eating Disorders Association.
Wierenga is wife to a math-teacher husband and mother and foster mother to four boys. The Wierengas make their home in Neerlandia, Alberta, Canada.
Emily is celebrating the release of her debut novel with a "Women Helping Women" shopping spree giveaway.
One winner will receive:
- $200 to spend at Emily's favorite shops, Noonday Collection & Vibella (Click through to learn more about how these companies exist to make a difference in the lives of women!)
- A Promise in Pieces by Emily Wierenga
- A Stitch and a Prayer by Eva Gibson
- Rival Hearts by Tara Randel