on April 17, 2012
Until Forever by Darlene Shortridge is a deeply emotional story about second chances and learning to forgive. From the outset, Jessi and Mark Jensen's marriage is rocky at best. Jessi comes across as an over anxious control freak, while her husband Mark is selfish, immature and has a drinking problem. With that kind of foundation, is it any wonder that Jessi coddles their only child and treats Mark like an adolescent rather than an equal member of the relationship? Then devastation strikes. Mark and their son Ethan are involved in a car accident. Mark, who had been drinking, goes to jail and Ethan falls into an unresponsive coma.
Several years pass and Jessi decides to pull the plug and let Ethan die. She has become even more bitter than before, and even her Aunt Merry, a woman of deep faith, cannot convince her to surrender her problems to God. Meanwhile, Mark has been undergoing some changes of his own while in prison. Befriended by the prison Chaplin, he becomes a Christian and embarks on a brand new life as a believer. The biggest surprise that takes place during this time is that Jessi has had another child - a girl named Olivia, who is also Mark's daughter. Apparently she was pregnant when the accident happened and no one knew. I had to wonder where the infant was while she was spending every waking moment at her son's bedside before he died. That aside, the story moves forward when Mark gets released from prison. For me, this is where the story really begins.
The tables have turned as far as the reader's sympathies go. Mark is a genuinely changed man, where as Jessi has become, quite understandably, even more anxious and unforgiving. Little by little, however, through the prayers of Aunt Merry, Mark and others, Jessi begins to soften.
What I really liked about this book was the way the characters were so well rounded. I can't imagine facing this same kind of trauma and yet the author manages to reveal all the emotional turmoil while still keeping it real. Healing is a slow process for Jessi, as I imagine it would be for someone faced with this situation. Mark, as a Christian, demonstrates the dramatic change that can take place in a person's life without becoming a goody-good or seeming cliché.
Because of the depth of the emotional content, this was not always an easy book to read. However, it was satisfying in that the character's growth and the story line moved steadily forward. Ultimately, healing does come, but it is not an easy journey. For a poignant, touching, and thought provoking read, try Until Forever.
on April 16, 2012
Until Forever is a powerfully written, inspiring work by a wonderful storyteller! Ms. Shortridge created realistic characters that are completely relateable to. Even if you've never known the devastation of what addiction can do to a family, Ms. Shortridge brings it home to the reader. This is a story of love, understanding and most importantly, a faith in God and His power.
A compelling story. Be ready to laugh and cry...and be moved. Highly recommended...
on May 14, 2012
The overall story held my interest but was very predictable. But what 's with the aunt's constant prayers for the salvation of her niece and her ex but never a mention of any compassion or interest for the niece's mother or father? One of them must have been her brother or sister but they were just thrown in the story as careless, thoughtless almost worthless people who certainly didn't deserve any prayer or consideration that they also were not saved. It just kept implying they were beyond caring about. In sort of ruined the impression of the aunt being so caring for me. The author needed to have made the niece an orphan for the story to have worked. Just to leave the parents out like they never mattered after caring so much for the drunk nephew-in-law didn't make in sense in light of Christian love.
on April 7, 2016
Is there anything too big, too devastating, so heart wrenching that a person can't forgive no matter what? Shortridge focuses this storyline on forgiveness and second chances. The characters are so realistic and have such normal human emotions, strengths and weaknesses that the reader is immediately drawn in to the storyline. As you read, you will run the gamut of emotions yourself. Aunt Merry is the lynchpin of the story, and it is through her own strengths and weaknesses that Jessi and Mark learn the realities of life and grow in their faith and love for Jesus. It is also how they learn that only through God's strength can weak humans forgive the unforgivable.
I especially loved Aunt Merry's prayer group, their closeness, and the format of their meeting time. What a bond these wonderful women had developed as well as the strength and persistence of their prayer life. I particularly loved their joy and celebration when a prayer had been answered.
Overall, a wonderful easy to read faith-based book. I look forward to reading the next in this series.
"When you feel weak, open the Word. When you feel helpless, hopeless, friendless, open the Word, and God will fill every place of emptiness inside of you. Lean on him for everything. If you put your trust in him, his plan for your life will come forth."
"..every day is a gift. Learn to treasure what it is God is showing you. Learn to make your days his days. When we following his perfect will for our lives, we are walking in the direction he wants to go. Each day, keep your Bible with you. It's your source of strength."
"God wants our firsts, not our leftovers."
"..follow your heart and don't keep holding on to not forgiving. It will keep you from the life you are meant to lead.
on September 21, 2013
Until Forever is a story of a young family that is torn apart by the devastating effects of alcoholism. Can healing take place in a relationship when an unforgivable act is committed? Will Jessi's pain and Mark's guilt keep them apart forever, or will unforeseen circumstances bind them together?
I don't read a lot of Christian fiction, but this was a quick and enjoyable read. I truly believe God can help us through the most difficult times in our lives and that prayers are answered. I admired Jessi for her ability to forgive-- I know that's what we're supposed to do, but I'm not sure I would be able to forgive something like this. There were a few Inconsistencies in the story that I noticed. For example, Olivia's eyes are described as being dark blue and then later are referred to as green. Chapter 31 starts off stating the Christmas Eve pageant went off without a hitch and the next sentence says one of the angels fell on the stairs and landed on his noggin and everyone laughed. I also wondered about Aunt Merry and her prayer group. The way they met and then retreated to their own personal prayer closet just seemed a little odd to me, but maybe that's how some people do it.
I did like the message of forgiveness, the love God has for us, and His ability to help people change. Great messages for all of us.
on December 10, 2013
I love loved the story line and thought there was so much potential for development of the relationship between the couple involved that just didn't happen. I loved the role of the aunt and how her relationship with Christ and years of prayers eventually prevailed. The story was very good in terms of seeing the redemption possible through Christ. However, I was reading it for that as well as for a romantic story and the romance side of it was very lacking. That is probably the intent of the author, however, I just personally would have enjoyed it more had that been done better.
on May 24, 2011
"I will love you until forever." Jessi Jensen spoke those words to her son Ethan every day, yet when tragedy strikes, her entire world is torn apart. Darlene Shortridge brings to life the story of Jessi in Until Forever. Even though life must go on, Jessi is stuck trying to hold on to the past and make sense of what has happened. When Jessi's husband is the cause of the accident, how can she possibly find a way to move forward?
What does it truly mean to love another person? How can we forgive what seems unforgiveable? What are our relationships built upon? These are the core questions that Darlene addresses in this book. Throughout the story, Jessi's aunt demonstrates the power of prayer and faith as she not only prays for healing, but acts out the kind of love and forgiveness that she talks about. The story is compelling, emotional, and captivating. The Christian message is clearly shared in an everyday language. I enjoyed learning what it means to truly love someone Until Forever.
Kristi Burchfiel, author of Without Regrets and The Daily Devotional Series