Book description: Just months after her husband threw her out of their penthouse and sent their two sons away, Gabrielle Fairbanks is finally getting back on her feet. She has a job she loves at the homeless shelter, an apartment for her and the boys, caring friends, and even a new love interest. Best of all, an unexpected windfall has given her a brand-new dream- a House of Hope for homeless mothers and their children.
Piece by piece, Gabby’s new life is coming together- but the old one keeps dragging her back. First her husband Philip hints at a reconciliation…then hits her up for a loan to pay his gambling debts. And when Gabby tells him no, he makes a desperate move that puts them all in harm’s way. How can she even think of embarking on a new venture when so much is up in the air?
Gabby is realizing that she needs something far greater than her own strength or even that of her friends. That to move forward, she must first lean on the only One who knows what the future holds.
Having anxiously awaited this third installment in Neta Jackson’s House of Hope series, I couldn’t wait to see what happened with Gabby and her boys. Who Do I Lean On? did not disappoint at all! In fact, this was my favorite book in the series yet! Last year I read the first two books, Where Do I Go? and Who Do I Talk To? of Neta Jackson’s new series. Jackson is also the best-selling author of the Yada Yada Prayer Group series, which I hope to get through someday too (so many books, so little time…)
What was refreshing about these books is that they are set in Chicago. Seems simple, but I had discovered these books after reading Jennifer Weiner and Emily Giffin (both of whom I love!) but most of their novels are set in New York City. After a while, the same city gets bored and a reader wants to read about a new location! So I very much welcomed the Chicago scenes. (And as it would be, I’ll be traveling to Chicago for the first time- albeit for business- in just two weeks!)
I loved reading where Gabby is now after learning how to piece her life back together. I feel this book moved at a perfect pace, introducing new situations and scenarios and keeping the reader’s interest the entire time. Gabby’s faith is definitely stronger in this novel, as she learns to trust God more with her life and decisions. Funny how the tables turn when Philip asks her for a loan. It’s obvious how Gabby has grown as a woman and Christian based on how she handles that situation. Looking back, she was really all over the place in the first novel (who wouldn’t be, given the plot line) but she is absolutely more together in Who Do I Lean On? and it’s easy to root for her.
Jackson wraps this one up nicely as she prepares readers for the finale, Who Is My Shelter?, coming March 2011. While it’s exciting to see how it will end, it will be sad to say goodbye. This is the first “series” of books I’ve read, and with the exception of Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers, my first experience with Christian fiction novels. Neta Jackson develops her characters in a way that makes you feel comfortable from the very first page. I would love to see this series turned into a movie because I can just picture the Manna House and the new Shepherds Fold recreational room! It’s been a fun journey with these characters.
Gabby is much more “likable” this time around as she is finding her independence and holding her head high. This one can definitely make you think. When the rug is completely pulled out from under you, it’s important to turn to the One that knows everything about you (Psalm 139) and knows what the future holds. This series is a fantastic reminder of those things, and I really have enjoyed the fictional stories with the Christian theme. Jackson is an engaging, inspiring, and creative author who keeps readers coming back for more. (No wonder the Yada Yada Prayer Group series is on book #7!) 🙂 While it might be anti-climactic to read that series now (some characters from that series make appearances in the House of Hope series), I still want to read them. And the good part is I won’t have to wait several months for the next one!
If you like Christian fiction, I’d recommend this book. And even if you don’t like Christian fiction, but like an inspiring read with characters that will feel like your extended family, I recommend the House of Hope series. And if you read the first three books before March, we can all read the finale together! 🙂 Happy reading all!