Stealing Jenny by Ellen Gable

Inspirational and Religious Fiction is a genre I’ve begun to read more of since I got Kenny, my Kindle. One of the many advantages of browsing for ebooks is that I don’t just go to the same section of the same bookstore – I click around and never know what I might end up with. When I downloaded Stealing Jenny I certainly got a treasure! Then, months later, when Ellen commented on my blog and asked if I’d be interested in doing a review swap I didn’t even realize at first that she was Stealing Jenny’s author (dork alert). I read it again, this time with a more critical eye, and it was just as compelling the second time as the first!

The more I read and the more I write the more discerning I am about the books I am willing to devote time to. I can’t abide a book that doesn’t have well-developed characters and natural dialogue, and part of the reason I enjoyed Stealing Jenny so much is because these are two of its strengths. I’ve read some inspirational fiction in which the characters are too, well, too goody-goody for me to be able to relate to. Tom and Jenny, this book’s protagonists, have a snippy fight about laundry the morning of the day she’s kidnapped. There’s a mother-in-law who is critical of her daughter-in-law’s housekeeping skills. There’s a little girl who’s serious beyond her years and silently blames herself for her mother’s abduction. I could even relate to some extent to the antagonist, a woman damaged by her life experiences and willing to go to any extreme to have a child of her own.

Stealing Jenny’s strongest aspect, though, is pacing. I couldn’t put this book down, even the second time I was reading it and knew what was going to happen. Yes, this book is inspirational, but even if all the inspirational elements were removed it would still be an excellent and suspenseful thriller. I won’t be a spoiler, but it has one of those fabulous “just when you thought everything was going to be fine. . .” twists near the end. And I got my happy ending (sorry, but I really expect a happy ending, or at least some closure if the book is part of a series) but not too happy. It was a realistic ending, and it would have been very easy for the author to have everyone complete and harmonious at the end, but happiness cannot be appreciated without sadness, and good cannot exist without evil.

There were several back story dumps throughout the book, but they were all information the reader needed, and they were well-placed and believable. In a crisis situation such as a kidnapping I can imagine that both the person abducted and the family left behind would easily be pulled back into memories of significant times in their lives. And as a nurse, I appreciated the accuracy of the medical situations and conditions involved. I know it’s picky of me, but nothing will pull me out of a story faster than medical inaccuracies, and in this book there were none.

I worried that it might not be the best book for a woman in the later stages of pregnancy to read, but I mentioned the title to a friend of mine who just had her baby a few days ago and she said she’d read it recently and it hadn’t caused her any sleepless nights or needless worry 😉 So if you haven’t picked up a copy of this number-one seller on Kindle already, put Stealing Jenny on your list of books to read this summer. I plan on reading more of Ellen’s books myself and following her on her blog, Plot, Line, and Sinker.

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