In this well written novel, we are taken into the lives of Nena and Jim. Nena inherited a horse farm in northern Virginia and she has spent her life trying to keep it from going bankrupt. It has been an all consuming job – even to the neglect of her children. Now, as an older adult, the children gone far away, Nena discovers she has cancer. The cancer is serious. As she and Jim face the future, Jim's thoughts go back to their meeting and how he came to marry her. Nena asks Jim to have their children come to see her before it is too late. It is not an easy task as there are antagonistic feelings toward their mother, the mother who abandoned their care for a more important farm.
King has managed to write a touching and thought provoking novel. It is a novel of memory, of forgiveness, and of restoration. King has cleverly paralleled the children's lives to that of their mother. Each of them must deal with issues they are facing. I was amazed at how a novel about a woman dying of cancer could be so uplifting, so positive. It gives the reader a real sense of God working through all circumstances, even the death of a parent. This is a novel of hope, even in the midst of a hopeless situation. This is a novel of love, even when there has been hurt and separation. It is a novel of God's forgiveness, despite Nena's reluctance to admit she needs it. It is a novel of God's grace and restoration, even when the recipients are hesitant to participate.
Carve out a few hours of time because you will not want to put this novel down. And make sure you have some tissues near by. Enjoy.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.
Michael King in his new book “A Thousand Sleepless Nights” published by Realms brings us into the life of Jim Harding.
From the back cover: A family torn apart by neglect and hurt…And brought together again by a most unlikely force.
In the 1970s, escaping a home where he knew nothing but violence and hate, Jim Harding found work, and love, on the largest horse ranch in Virginia. The object of his affections, Nena St. Claire, is the daughter of the owner—a man who ruled his ranch with an iron fist and would do whatever it took to keep Nena and Jim apart.
Against the wishes of her family, Nena marries Jim, and after her father dies, she sacrifices everything—including her family—to keep the ranch alive. Now their three grown children have lives of their own and want nothing to do with Nena. She was never the mother they needed.
When cancer strikes and Nena is given a devastating diagnosis, can Jim reconcile the family before it is too late?
When individuals die what is the remorse felt by the loved ones left behind? Generally it is “I regret that I never patched up that problem that we had” or “we could have been closer if only I had forgiven instead of keeping them at a distance”. When the individual is no longer here we long for one more chance to reconcile and say the things we never did but then, of course, it is too late. In “A Thousand Sleepless Nights” Michael King gives us a story where a family gets the chance to reconcile before there is a death. And there is a need for huge amounts of reconciliation in this family. We can all identify with at least one member of the Harding clan and that is what makes this book so touching and personal. Underneath this great story there are the themes of restoration, emotional healing and family. I liked “A Thousand Sleepless Nights” and am looking forward to more stories from Michael King.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for free from Realms for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Plumbing the depths of human emotion, A Thousand Sleepless Nights is a poignant, moving read. From the beginning, readers will be immersed into Nena and Jim's world, feeling their heartache as cancer ravages Nena's body, and mourning with the family for the mistakes that have been made, mistakes that continue to overshadow each family member. Michael King writes with a steady hand, as one familiar with the horror of cancer. As a result, his characters truly live and breathe as they adjust to a new reality, one that has rocked them to their core.
What I most appreciated about this book is how it brings to life the fact that "all things work together for good to those who love God" (Romans 8:28), that the cancer that is taking Nena's life also serves as a catalyst to bring healing to a broken family. That, indeed, is a powerful message that is desperately needed in a world of hurting people who often find it so hard to trust that God.
If you are looking for a deeply emotional book that will both entertain and leave you thinking about the nature of life and of faith, then this is the book for you. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher, Realms, for the purposes of this unbiased review.
A story of cancer, broken families, and God's love
Date:October 19, 2012
‘A Thousand Sleepless Nights’ is a powerful story of one family’s battle with cancer and for wholeness.
Nena and Jim are the main characters of 'A Thousand Sleepless Nights.' Nena's cancer and past neglect of her family shadows or influences everything else in the story. Jim is her husband. His devotion to Nena and the three children (now grown) is apparent throughout the book. His story is split between the present and the past looking back at what led up to his meeting Nena and a short time after meeting her, some thirty years earlier. As the story progresses it becomes apparent that something happened in the past that Jim needs to deal with before it is too late. Roberta is the youngest of their children. She felt her mom’s neglect the most and in her search for love has made some costly choices. Ken the middle child is trying to fill his emptiness with success, basically showing the same tendencies of his mom, only on his own path. The oldest, Barbara, is the one least broken by Nena’s passion to save the ranch at any cost, but she too is battling health issues.
As Nena’s cancer progresses and her health deteriorates, she begins to see the damage she has done to her entire family. Her determination once focused on saving the ranch finds a new focus. She must come to terms with what she has done as well as dealing with her cancer and possible death. As death's threat grows larger Nena becomes even more determined.
As a cancer survivor himself, Michael knows firsthand the heartaches and pains of cancer. He takes that knowledge and uses it to make a very realistic story.
Michael uses his writing talents to draw the reader into Nena and Jim’s world, right along with Roberta, Ken, and Barbara. A world of pain, suffering, and yet hope.
I’d recommend ‘A Thousand Sleepless Nights’ to everyone. It is realistic, especially about cancer. It touches on humanity’s greatest need (peace with God).
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author Michael King as a member of The Darlington Society. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
This is a powerful story. One you will not easily forget. Jim and Nena meet and fall in love. They marry against the wishes of her father. Through the years their love is constant and true. But their children are living lives that are anything but ideal. They are all hurting from their Mother's neglect as they were growing up. When Nena is diagnosed with cancer, the regrets come crashing down. Jim tries to bring the family back together. Michael King will take you to Virginia from the first page. His writing will allow you to live this family's story right along with them.
This is a story of tears, illness, joy, regrets and many emotions we can all identify with. Will this family allow God to give them forgiveness, faith, hope and most of all his wonderful peace? This book will truely bless you as it did me.
Is anything material in life worth every ounce of your focus, effort or attention? A career? A house? A hobby? How is that cost measured and paid? In A THOUSAND SLEEPLESS NIGHTS, Mike Dellosso, writing as Micheal King examines these questions and reveals the costs that become associated. Nena Hutchings was raised on a horse ranch, and throughout her life has wanted nothing more than to see it successful and kept in the family. To offset it's declining business, she put more and more of her time and effort into it, eventually distancing herself from her family. While there's an understanding of her desire to see success, the toll it takes on relationships matures until her heartbreaking discovery of cancer forces her to face that chasm she created and finally recognize the cost she forfeited by her ambition. Can a bridge be rebuilt? In this book, Mike weaves his own experiences of his battle with cancer into a story that is incredibly convicting, but the story is less about the cancer that takes life and more about the cancer that kills family. But this cancer has a much simpler cure: putting off the 'this is how I was raised' and changing to this is how I know I should be. As I read this story, I found myself in so many of its' characters; the grandchild whose father continually puts off bonding opportunity to focus on an upcoming promotion and I was in that father seeking position. I found my feelings in a daughter's ambivalence and in the husband acting as a middle-man. I found myself in the lead character as I recognized my own failings in raising my own kids. The story flashes back and forth between the young Nena and her current self. Here we find a spirited, young, carefree girl; the woman she might have become instead grown hard and lonely by the results of her hardships, and Mike captures this perfectly telling it this way. And that's the point of this book: pointing a finger at what we're doing and where we're at in life; revealing the chain that's been handed down to us by our own hardships. Identifying the shortcomings we face through our own misguided focus and kindling a conviction and a desire to bring change and to make that happen before it terminally affects those around us to become the burdening legacy we pass on. So, this book comes recommended for parents and grandparents. This book is for those who feel a hurt passed down to them, and this book is for young adults who are still working out what they wish to become. There are times God whispers to us where we feel the nudge that our priorities in life are askew and there are times God screams to us through hardship where we are forced to assess where we actually are and worry whether things can be made right. This book will definitely hold up a mirror, but in the end, which voice will you listen to?
This book was a roller coaster of emotions, it was so good I actually read it twice. The story is of Nena and Jim told as flashbacks from the characters as they also lead their lives in the present. It is a love story of two people from very different backgrounds who make a life for themselves on a Virginia horse farm. Circumstances change and the once idyllic life becomes one of hardship, unending work and sorrow. Their children are left to fend for themselves while Nena uses all her time and energy to try to keep what was once a place of beauty, laughter , love and hope to a place of sadness, lonliness and bitter loss. The children grow up and each goes off to their own lives. What was lost in their childhood changes who they become as adults. Nena and Jim grow old and alone with each others' memories. Colon cancer, that monster in hiding, comes to Nena and shatters her life and Jims. As her health deteriorates and options are fading, the "what ifs" in the past and her need to reach out to her grown children becomes the reason to see them one more time. Each of the grown children struggles with problems and sadness and must come to grips with their mothers' illness and what they need to do. This book will leave you thinking of your life and the past and what you could have done or said to have changed the present. Yes, it is a story of cancer and all its horrible affects on those around the person with it. But it is so much more. It is a story of faith, forgiveness, redemption and the power of love.
In Michael King’s book, A Thousand Sleepless Nights, you will experience multiple levels of emotions as the main character, Nena (St. Claire) Hutching, loses focus of her children as she struggles to save her farm, severs her relationships with her children through neglect, and is diagnosed with colon cancer, the same horrible disease that took her father and grandfather.
Though Jim, Nena’s husband, tries to convince the children to return home during her surgery and chemo, they all have excuses, some legit, some not. The estrangements and dysfunctions have kept them apart for years and hinder some of their own personal relationships.
The main story revolves around the diagnosis of cancer and its ramifications to the patient and his/her family. Since the author has actually gone through colon cancer, we are privy to the emotional, physical and spiritual battles that ravage through the mind and body of the person going through cancer, and the fears of the family as they stand around feeling helpless as they can’t change the diagnosis.
However, to offset the emotional stress of the cancer issues, the author includes the wonderfully warm story of how Nena and Jimmy came to know each other and marry. A welcome reprieve from the heaviness of the subject! It’s delightful to read, as the author has a way with words that ‘takes you there.’
The characters become special to you as you read through the book. They are as personable as anyone you may know. Their reactions are real. Their emotions touch the depth of your heart. Jimmy and Nena during their courting days help us remember the fun between young people in love. Their love and commitment during the good times and bad are lessons for all of us to learn.
This book can help family members and cancer patients to understand the depths of the disease and how it affects everyone in the family by experiencing the denial, fear of death, regrets, loneliness, hopelessness, deep love, commitment, and personal loss. But it’s also a very strong story of forgiveness and reconciliation.
The author does not leave us without Hope. He shares about the One who is aware of the dilemmas and how He works through others to comfort you. Does that always mean that your loved one won’t die? No. Healing may come through prayer, but He also helps you rest in the knowledge of eternal life on the other side as your loved one or friend puts their trust in the Lord.
Whether you have a loved one or a friend who’s going through cancer treatment, has beat it and has gone into remission, or passed away, this is an excellent book to help you comprehend and work through the issues that encompass the cancer diagnosis and its ramifications.
This ARC book was provided free by Michael King in exchange for my honest review. No monetary compensation was exchanged.