“Lead me Home,” by Amy K. Sorrells

Amy Sorrells

Reviewed by Johnnie Bernhard

Lead me Home by Amy K. Sorrells hits the sweet spot between adult and YA Christian Fiction with its compelling tale of teenage angst, abandonment, and loss. Sorrells’s writing is often poetic, emotionally moving with vivid imagery of the setting and characters. However, she often relies on stereotypical characters and situations to move the plot, and there are many instances of predictable dialogue responses from predictable characters. These were not enough, however, to counteract the satisfaction of reading the book.

The beauty of Lead me Home is its delicate and poetic prose in describing loss. It examines how the main characters, adult and teens, respond to loss within their lives: loss of a dying farming community, loss of a young wife and mother, loss of a neglectful father, loss of a mother’s great beauty, and loss of a church, the focal point of the main characters. Each loss becomes a reflection on whether an individual’s faith is genuine and sustainable.

Sorrells’s strong sense of place gives the novel great authenticity. Her description of the dying farming community and a simpler way of life is bittersweet. The dwindling congregation in the town’s traditional Methodist church reflects a dying culture. Forced to close, the church eventually is purchased by a bank. Forever gone is a place where neighbors and families were baptized, wed, and buried for over a hundred years. The church lost its congregation to the nearby megachurch that offers technically enhanced sermons and contemporary, amplified music. Like the shrinking number of family farms, the traditional community church is replaced by something larger and financially stronger.

The novel’s main characters are struggling with both inner and external conflicts. The pastor of the traditional Methodist church, James Horton, not only struggles with the tragic death of his wife, but also contends with the loss of his church and his livelihood. His teenage daughter Shelby struggles with the loss of her mother by experimenting with a dangerous love interest and alcohol. These characters are the perfect juxtaposition to the grief of teenage brothers, Noble and Eustace Burden, the Hortons’ neighbors. Their father has abandoned them, causing an end to any dreams Noble has outside of the farm community. His loyalty to his mother and special needs brother is haunting in its honesty.

Noble’s struggles as a young man and head of a family lead the reader to Sorrells’s theme. His friend, Brock, tells him, “Sometimes leaving ain’t the answer for our pain. Sometimes the dreams God has for us, the biggest difference we can make in the world is right where we are.”

The climax centers on a storm and an accident. The most unlikely of heroes is found in Noble’s brother Eustace. Eustace’s butterfly collection symbolizes the metamorphosis taking place in his family, as well as in the home of Shelby and James Horton. It is also a signal to the Christian fiction reader that God can use anyone to do his work. The resolution provides a happy ending, but most importantly, peace for the characters. Sorrells reminds the reader of God’s deliverance despite hopelessness.

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