JUST BETWEEN YOU AND ME: A Novel of Losing Fear and Finding God
Jenny B. Jones
Maggie Montgomery loves candy and adventure, fears water and commitment, and hates the idea of returning to her small hometown of Ivy, Texas. It is a place of broken relationships and painful memories, the epicenter of an unending cycle of nightmares. However, when she receives a surprisingly desperate call from her estranged father, Maggie finds herself Texas-bound. She takes a small comfort in knowing it is only for a few days, but those few days soon turns into a few weeks. It appears that God has a plan for Maggie, one that encompasses not only her fears and nightmares but also her hopes and dreams that have long remained hidden behind sturdy walls. He may just have to drag her into it kicking and screaming.
For all the world, Maggie has her act together. Sassy and outgoing, she speaks her mind and is up for a thrill-seeking adventure any hour of the night or day, as long as it involves dry land and a package of SweeTarts. Her job as a cinematographer for a cable travel channel takes her to all corners of the earth. And from her tapes come shows depicting beautiful vacation settings chock-full of golden sunsets, shimmering waterfalls and majestic mountains. But looking through that same lens, Maggie sees a very different world. Children forced to be soldiers, slaves and prostitutes, children starving, begging and dying from lack of medication…images that reach through her lens and grab her heart. But her dream of sharing this side of life with the rest of the world is repeatedly crushed as network after network rejects her documentary. Her last chance may be the interview with National Geographic coming up in a few weeks.
Just back from France and days away from heading to another location, Maggie is on a dinner date when she’s interrupted by a phone call from her father, who she has not seen in five years. There is an air of desperation in his voice that Maggie has never heard as he asks her to come home. Maggie returns to Ivy only to face an assortment of challenging relationships: The father she could never please; her schizophrenic sister, Allison, who hates her; Connor, the nerd-turned-hunky veterinarian she tormented in high school; and the best friend she left behind.
And then there’s Riley, Allison’s 10-year-old daughter. Mischievous, sassy and far too old for her years, Riley appears to be an uncontrollable brat. Maggie soon discovers, however, that Riley has been living a nightmare with Allison, who not only has mental issues but also has exacerbated her state with years of consuming street drugs and alcohol. Riley is often abandoned for days at a time. Allison’s random pattern of overdoses, failed attempts at detox and hook-ups with unscrupulous men have made their mark on Riley. Now Allison has disappeared, and Maggie’s father fears Riley will end up in foster care if he can’t get help raising her.
Maggie’s job has sent her trudging through swamps, climbing mountains and foraging through creature-filled rainforests, but she has never faced anything as scary as Riley or the fluttering of her heart when she’s near Connor. Why has God put these two people in her path? What kind of faith does it take to trust God when His plan seems all wrong?
Author Jenny B. Jones has a rare gift for dialogue, establishing relationships, giving voice to her characters, and, let’s be honest, creating the perfect man. Who wouldn’t fall in love with a smart, witty, hot veterinarian? This is the kind of book you read until your eyes blur, then you splash them with cold water and read some more. Funny, touching and passionate, JUST BETWEEN YOU AND ME is the kind of book that you wish wouldn’t end.
--- Reviewed by Susan Miura
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