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This Side of Heaven: A Novel Paperback – January 6, 2009

4.7 out of 5 stars 177 customer reviews
Book 3 of 3 in the Cody Gunner Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Christian fiction author Kingsbury is well loved by her fans, and this newest story, based loosely upon her own brother's death, will further endear her to her faithful readers. Kingsbury tells the story of a strained relationship between picture-perfect Nate and Annie Warren, whose son, Josh, a tow truck driver, has been a disappointment to them. Even though Josh's mistakes are now history, his current joblessness—owing to a drunk driver's recklessness—serves to ratchet up his parental disapproval rating. Only a few people know the truth: Josh is a real-life hero and his one heart's desire is to be united with a daughter he's never met. When Josh's life is struck again by tragedy, his immediate family must come to grips with the recognition that they never really cared enough to ultimately know their son. Kingsbury does a fine job communicating the emotional struggles of individuals, and readers will resonate with her characters' sorrows and losses. Yet much of the story is formulaic, which detracts from its otherwise powerful message about acceptance. (Jan.)
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"Karen is a gifted writer who confronts the hard issues with truth and sensitivity."―Francine Rivers, author of Redeeming Love

"Tender-hearted readers beware! Karen has done it again! After you turn the last page of JUST BEYOND THE CLOUDS and put away the tissues, you will find yourself thinking of the characters again and again. Every time you do, you will smile."―Robin Jones Gunn, bestselling author of Finding Father Christmas on Just Beyond the Clouds

"JUST BEYOND THE CLOUDS was amazing. It captured me in the first chapter and never let me go. . . . Karen writes about the sort of love we could all use a little more of."―Richie McDonald, lead singer of Lonestar on Just Beyond the Clouds

Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Center Street; Complete Numbers Starting with 1, 1st Ed edition (January 6, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1599956780
  • ISBN-13: 978-1599956787
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (177 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #139,445 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

No. 1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Karen Kingsbury is America's favorite inspirational novelist. There are nearly 20 million copies of her award-winning books in print, including several million copies sold in the past year. Karen has written more than 50 novels, ten of which have hit #1 on national lists.

Karen's newest novel, COMING HOME - The Baxter Family - releases June 26 and is the subject of much buzz on Karen's active Facebook page, where she had more than 250,000 friends. There is also great anticipation over THE BRIDGE, Karen's much-anticipated first hardback release with her new publisher - Simon & Schuster's Howard Books. THE BRIDGE is a love story set against the demise of the American bookstore.

In addition, Karen has ventured into the area of short pieces with her new non-fiction series - KAREN KINGSBURY, THE REST OF THE STORY. Her first piece, I CAN ONLY IMAGINE, has touched the hearts of tens of thousands of readers interested in knowing more about Karen's personal life and the motivation behind her Life-Changing Fiction (TM). I CAN ONLY IMAGINE shares the story of Karen's brother, his struggles, and his quest for redemption.

Karen's novel LIKE DANDELION DUST is the subject of a major motion picture currently in theaters. Like Dandelion Dust stars Academy Award winning Mira Sorvino and Barry Pepper, along with Cole Hauser and Maxwell Perry Cotton. The film has received more than 30 awards in the Film Festival Circuit including numerous Best Picture awards. Several of Karen's books are currently under theatrical development.

Karen's most recent series - the Bailey Flanigan Series, wrapped up in March. Coming Home - The Baxter Family - is a stand-alone novel about John Baxter's 70th Birthday and the tragedy that happens during June, 2010 with Take Four. The series is about two producers looking to change the world with the power of film. The Above the Line series also includes Karen's popular characters from the fictitious Baxter Family. The Baxters were first introduced to readers through the five-book Redemption series, and then the five-book Firstborn series, and finally the four-book Sunrise series.

Dubbed by Time Magazine as the Queen of Christian Fiction, Karen has also been a featured guest on the Today Show, Fox News, USA Today, and numerous other television programs and magazines. Her fiction has made her one of the country's favorite storytellers. Others of her emotionally gripping titles include the 9-11 Series, Even Now, Ever After, and Between Sundays.

Karen is also a public speaker, reaching more than 100,000 women annually through various national events. Karen and her husband, Don, live in Nashville, TN with their five sons, three of whom are adopted from Haiti. Their daughter Kelsey is an actress who has appeared in several Christian films. She is newly married to Christian recording artist Kyle Kupecky. The two also live in Nashville.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
After reading This Side of Heaven by Karen Kingsbury, I realized more than ever before I need to live my life in the now; tell my children that I am proud of them even when they have done something that does not warrant a second glance, and lastly, live with no regrets. Josh Warren understood why his family was disappointed in him; he was kind of disappointed in himself. But never once did he harbor ill feelings toward them. He loved them unconditionally. Though Josh was suffering from a bad accident he tried to put a front on and not focus too much on his pain.

Due to the accident Josh cannot work, and while he waits for the insurance company to award him a settlement, Josh hangs on to his faith because he longs to one day hold his daughter, Savannah. His parents, Annie and Nate, do not believe that Savannah is his, but deep within his entire being Josh has no doubt. Would Josh be able to finally hold his daughter? Would his parents finally be proud of him and all that he has done?

Normally, I do not talk about the cover of a book, but I absolutely loved the cover. The yellow had a calming effect on me. The little girl with the bright blue eyes made me smile when I read something that brought tears to my eyes. I became teary eyed at least twice while reading this heart-warming and eye-opening book. I enjoyed This Side of Heaven from page one until the very last page. I recommend this book to readers of Christian fiction and to parents.

Jennifer Coissiere
APOOO BookClub
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Format: Paperback
This Side of Heaven is a terrific story of denial, responsibility and acceptance. According to his parents, Josh just can't seem to get it together after the terrible accident that has left him in intense pain. His time is spent waiting for the settlement to come through from the drunk driver's insurance, but it's been three years already and it seems like it will never come.

Josh's mom, Annie, is a busy lady. Her plate is full with helping her husband get re-elected to the State Board of Education which means making sure people are happy and entertained. She knows how other people judge her son because he isn't as successful as he should be. But Annie can't really argue with them because deep down she feels the same way.

Josh is intent on finding his daughter, but can't afford to search for her until the settlement from the accident arrives. No one believes she is his daughter, but he never gives up. Annie especially wishes Josh would put all that behind him and move on.

What Annie and the busybodies don't know is that there is more to Josh than they realize. They don't know that he's reconnected with his relationship with God or anything else about his life. They never asked. When another tragedy strikes Josh's family learns more about him in one day than they've known his whole life. How could they have missed it? And what are they going to do about it now?

I really enjoyed This Side of Heaven and the issues it highlights. Why is it hard for parents to accept their children sometimes? What keeps them from getting to know their child instead of dwelling on what they are not? Annie gets a rude awakening and will never be the same again. Some things just can't be reversed.

I'll warn you, this book is a tear-jerker but it's also wonderful and insightful. It will touch anyone no matter what stage of life they're in. Life can change in an instant and there are no do-overs.
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Format: Paperback
Sad, sad, sad. The main character dies completely unexpectedly, it was not even hinted at in the description. I went ahead and finished the book, hoping it would get better, it didn't. I am just ill at the abuse the little girl suffered. It made me ill that the author threw in an incident in which her mom gets involved with a man who desires the daughter. The book ends with the daughter going to live with her grandparents, as if now she is going to live a happily ever after story with no ill effects from the abuse and lack of affection from her mother. Yes, I know it was fiction, but perhaps because the description of the book seemed like this would be a feel-good story, I found the book upsetting.
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Format: Paperback
Nothing had worked out as Josh Warren had planned. After high school, his girlfriend Becky had broken up with him, he quit school and became a tow truck driver. He had a dream of opening his own tow truck business.

A year after a wild week in Vegas he discovers he is the father of a little girl, Savannah. Her mom wants child support, but Josh does not have the amount that she wants, so she stops contacting him and he is left to wonder about his child. Soon after that, an accident at work leaves Josh with severe back pain and fighting for a settlement from an insurance company. He hopes with the settlement money he can get the surgery he needs on his back, find his daughter, who is now seven, and open up his tow truck business. He has hope again as he just rededicated his life to Christ.

Josh's parents, especially his mom Annie, has felt great disappointment in Josh. They do not understand why he would want to drive tow trucks. They had expected him to go to college and marry Becky. They are convinced that Savannah is not his daughter and want him to let go of those thoughts himself. Annie feels he has thrown his life away.

When Josh is not able to search for Savannah, will Annie pick up his cause and fight to find Savannah to try to discover if she is truly his daughter? And will she take the time to discover the man that her son has become?

This book pulled me in immediately and got me emotionally attached. Then it punched me in the gut and left me crying and trying to catch my breath - only to lead me on to a victorious ending, even though it is not the one you can only imagine.
I love Karen Kingsbury and how her books evoke great emotion - at least in me. At the end of this book she shares how this story is based on her brother Dave's life, which made me cry all over again. If you haven't had the opportunity to read one of her books - this would be a good one to start with.
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