“Life’s a fragile thing…September 11 taught us that…For those of us who remain – all of us touched by that day, we need to find strength and hope in Christ, and to do the thing He asks us to do.” So states one of the main characters of Karen Kingsbury’s novel, Beyond Tuesday Morning, a heartwrenching look at the survivors of the greatest terrorist attack America has ever known.
Quite honestly, like most Americans, I had put the horror of 9/11 behind me. I had not forgotten – I don’t know how anyone could forget – but I did turn my thoughts away from the millions who struggled to move on with their lives.
Kingsbury’s novel takes us inside the mind and heart of Jaime, a firefighter’s widow who strives to move on with her life, even while she keeps herself trapped in the past. The novel is a sequel to One Tuesday Morning, a story that I did not read but eagerly look forward to, despite knowing how it ends. Three years after the loss of her husband, Jaime must determine whether to explore another relationship or remain faithful to her husband and none other.
Carefully, and with help from her daughter, her Heavenly Father, and her husband’s memory and scriptures, Jaime completes the grieving process. As she does so, she made me remember that even three years after the loss of the World Trade Center, families still struggled with the loss of spouses, parents, and children. Through Jaime, we see St. Paul’s chapel and many other grieving survivors, and my heart went out to them all. I cannot imagine the loss of my husband or children, especially in such an inexplicable, violent, public way.
Kingsbury deals with a very personal situation in a sensitive and caring manner. I found Jaime’s struggle, her back-and-forth conflict, realistic and heart-rending. At the same time, her faith in Christ touched me. I appreciated seeing her, so strong in faith, going through such struggles because it is gratifying to know that struggling to understand does not equal a loss of faith. Jaime maintains her faith even as she works through her grieving process, and ultimately, following the her lost husband’s admonition, she chooses life over death.
There were a few nitpicky complaints I had – I wondered why Jaime didn’t work, for instance, and didn’t learn the answer until after the novel was 2/3rds of the way complete. I assume that was covered in the previous story, but it still made me wonder. Also, I thought the addition of a only a few words – ‘it sounded like’ or ‘she thought he said’ – when Clay gave his name would have saved on a little confusion.
That said, these were the only faults I found with the story, and they are very minor indeed. The story gripped me and drew me in, keeping me up reading all night. The next book I intend to get ahold of is One Tuesday Morning, followed by basically every other book Kingsbury has published thus far. Despite putting me in tears three or four times – or perhaps because of it – this was one of the best books I have read in some time, and I look forward to a repeat performance.