It Had to Be You, by Susan May Warren, is a truly heartfelt story that involves the fate of a precious little girl with a failing heart, the future of two hockey stars, and a fiercely independent young lady with unspoken dreams. What makes it beautifully memorable is the way the author draws the story back to the Lord, in times of celebration and in trial. The central theme is one of family and the incredible blessing of having dear ones near when we need them.
I was a bit skeptical of this story as it began with the main character, Eden Christiansen, going on a date with a mortician! Thank goodness that relationship didn't last long. You'll have to read what ended it, though- crazy! Soon after that I was utterly engaged with the story. Loved it. Eden lives her life in the shadow of her brother, Owen, a quickly rising hockey star with an incredibly bright future- until tragedy strikes. I didn't see this coming at all. The story of Sam and his precious 9 year old daughter, Maddy, is woven into the book in a tenderly engaging way. Their story is full of sadness yet somehow God is able to shine through it all. There's also the mystery of the unidentified young man in a coma at the hospital- "John Doe". Susan May Warren has an amazing ability to make her readers feel for the characters and it's beautiful how she uses their lives to reflect on the Lord. My favorite character was John Christiansen, Eden's father. His faith in the Lord took my breath away...
"We expect God's love to be all nice and neatly packaged. But He'll do what He has to in order to draw us to that place where we need Him. Know Him. Are overwhelmed by His love for us."
He got up, ventured over to the food. Looked in the bag and pulled out to Owen. "Satan's plan for our suffering is the destruction of our faith. God's plan is for life. For love. You need to make a choice, Owen. Are you going to pray and lean into God? Or are you going to let this take you apart?"
So wise. Definitely words to focus on and learn from.
I highly recommend this book. It was wonderful!