Reviewed by Sheryl Root
Return to Me by Robin Lee Hatcher
"Robin expertly weaves the battle between judgment and grace into this unforgettable novel."
Most of us are familiar with the story of the prodigal son found in Luke 15. Have you ever wondered what happened after the party was over? Did the older brother ever get over his jealousy? Did the prodigal truly become a part of his family again?
Robin Lee Hatcher’s newest release, Return to Me, answers these questions in a contemporary and compelling story about two sisters, Elena and Roxy Burke, and their father Jonathan.
Roxy, twenty-five, grabs the chance that her grandmother’s inheritance gives her and heads to Nashville, pursuing her dream of becoming a country music star. Her father and older sister’s words of caution only serve to make her more determined. The last words she speaks to them are in anger; saying they won’t see her again until she has her name on a CD. Now, seven years later, her dreams have turned into a nightmare. Unwilling to put in the hard work needed to build a career in the Nashville music scene, Roxy has squandered her chances and her money. All she has left is regrets. She realizes that her only option for survival is to go home to Boise and hope that her family will take her back again.
Meanwhile, Elena has worked hard to learn the family business from the ground up—sharing in her father’s love of running Burke’s department stores and his strong faith in God. When Wyatt, Roxy’s old boyfriend and the man Elena has loved for years, asks her to marry him and share in the calling God has put on his heart to be a pastor, Elena is overjoyed. Then Roxy returns and their father welcomes her back with unconditional love. However, Elena’s feelings are not so clear-cut. She finds herself battling insecurities and jealousies that threaten to ruin not only her life, but her family’s as well. Can God bring healing and forgiveness to the Burke family?
I’ve always empathized with the older brother in the story of the prodigal son, so I saw much of myself in Elena. The Lord has patiently shown me, as He shows Elena, that all of our “righteousness” is as filthy rags to Him. While some sins, like drug addiction, may be more readily apparent to human eyes, there are other sins, such as bitterness or jealousy, which are easier to hide, both from ourselves and from others. However, no sin is hidden from God’s eyes and every one of us is in need of His grace. Robin expertly weaves the battle between judgment and grace into this unforgettable novel.
The first book of Robin’s I read, many years ago, was The Forgiving Hour. Her characters and story line amazed me then, and Return to Me is equally compelling. When people say they only read non-fiction—it’s a waste of time to read imaginary stories—I think of books like this and laugh at the idea. While I’ve learned many biblical truths from non-fiction books, it is the stories that stay with me. The characters that I come to care about, the right and wrong choices they make, the consequences to those choices. This is what takes the truth past my head and into my heart and soul.
Readers who want more of Jonathan and Carol Burke’s story will enjoy Robin’s Christmas novella, A Carol for Christmas. And I’m hoping Robin will have compassion on her readers and write another book sharing what happens next in Roxy’s life. There is certainly much more to come in her story and I want to know what happens!
Sheryl Root is Partner Database Manager at OneHope, a non-profit organization whose mission is to reach every child with God’s Word. She’s also a writer and a reader of everything she can get her hands on … books, blogs, magazines. In other words, she’s both a data geek and a book nerd. She loves to be able to support Christian authors and spread the word on great books and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, a wonderful community of published and yet to be published writers. You can follow her on Twitter at @Sheryl_Root.