Hope In a Bowl of Soup
Cyndi struggles to find meaning for her life after the death of her only child. An encounter with a homeless man leads her to believe she will find herself in serving others, so she cooks a hot meal for a few cold, hungry people.
A mixed response to her act of kindness stirs emotions she thought were lost forever. To keep those feelings alive, she opens a soup kitchen in her own community. But when her obsession with feeding the hungry clashes with her neighbors’ efforts to keep homeless people in the city where they belong, Cyndi must defend the soup kitchen both in her own conscience and in court.
A little about Patty first:
Diane Andersen’s Review: 4-Stars
A suburban mother mourns the loss of her only daughter and finds a means to fill the void in her life by running a soup kitchen out of a business real estate location that she and her husband own.
All is off to a promising start until area residents and business owners fear the soup kitchen, dubbed “Home Fires”, will become a neighborhood nuisance attracting “the wrong crowd” and lowering property values as well as deterring business revenue. Cyndi and her husband, Mike, stay the course, relying on their convictions and strong faith in the face of antagonism and a lawsuit.
As a clean Christian read, Home Fires fits the criteria for this market and checks all the right boxes. It has a fundamentalist Christian couple with just enough troubles to test their faith, but not enough to completely rock their world. Yes, losing a child is tough, but as is typical of Christian novels, this skirts the issue of how the child died and leaves it far enough in the backstory to be almost an afterthought through most scenes.
Enter a teen boy, Zach, and a homeless underaged girl, Clark, running away from a bad home life, and there’s room for everyone to reach redemption, absolution and a happy ending. Add to it a homeless man, Joe, with a lovable dog and this could be a Hallmark movie, just sweet and sentimental enough with the right amount of cheese to serve it up properly. But don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy this story, for the most part.
While this isn’t the best Christian family story I’ve read, it’s certainly not the worst. The characters, which seemed a bit flat and uninteresting, at first, did grow on me. Joe was probably the most interesting and complex of the cast and might have made for a more intriguing point of view character. Instead, the majority of the story is told through Cyndi’s point of view, written in endless repetition and inane recounting of everyday stuff that could have been better served implied or summarized. Likewise, the dialogue relied heavily on too much small talk and repetition of obvious information, making skimming the only recourse to get on with the plot, of which there isn’t much and of course is sewn up in a predictably tidy fashion.
But that is just what this genre depends on and readers crave. For me, it makes for a refreshing escape from an unpredictable and disturbing world, particularly as we end another year and head into the holidays full of all its stress and extra burdens. Given this novel revolves around a holiday setting, encompassing a full year from one Christmas season to the next, Home Fires makes for an effortless read worth checking out for Christian readers or perfect for holiday gift giving, and anyone looking to reflect on the season of hope and a chance for sharing one’s bounty with the less fortunate.
Perhaps it might even inspire some real-world reader response, as the author comments in an afterward with further information on contact organizations both for getting help from homelessness or domestic violence as well as a list of ways to offer help, making this book more than just an entertaining story. It’s a call to action as well!
Sherry Terry’s Review: 5-Stars
This is a good old-fashioned Christian read. I like the cover, and I feel it fits the story perfectly. The writing is strong and carried me forward for the whole book.
I enjoyed the story from the first word to the last. Joe, the homeless man, and his dog were my favorite characters. I thought all the characters were very well-rounded and felt like real people. Cyndi and Mike lost their daughter and received some money that they used to turn into a soup kitchen in a strip mall they bought.
There is enough diversity to make this a very interesting read. Even her own church goes after her for bring bums into the neighborhood. At the end of the day, this book brings to light the homeless situation that is a problem in every state, city, and town. If only more people would do what Cyndi does, this would be a better world.
Patty does such a great job showing us the homeless, it makes me feel that either she was homeless herself for a time, or she’s worked with helping them. Home Fires will make you feel compassionate and good at the same time. This book will make you want to volunteer. It’s got tons of Christmas cheer even in the face of the main character losing her daughter and the roadblocks she has to break down.
I can’t recommend this book enough for everyone. Young adults, adults and maybe even middle graders can learn a thing or two to accept people for their flaws, and we must love our neighbors for the world to work.
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