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Changing Habits    by Debbie Macomber order for
Changing Habits
by Debbie Macomber
Order:  USA  Can
Mira, 2003 (2003)
Hardcover, Audio
* *   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

Angelina's mother died when she was young, and she hears God's voice through a nun she meets on a school retreat to the convent. Joanna has always felt a calling from God, but never stronger than when her fianc9 returns from Vietnam with a pregnant wife. Kathleen's family has always viewed her as a future nun, and they do everything in their power to encourage her to follow that vocation. Each woman heeds God's call, each with her own reason for entering the convent, though not necessarily what it appears to be on the surface.

The initial years are tumultuous for the three women, as they adapt to new ways to think and act. Each woman struggles in submitting every aspect of her will to the Lord. Sister Angelina, a popular high school teacher, befriends a rebellious female student. Sister Joanna, a hospital nurse, finds herself falling for one of the doctors on her floor. Sister Kathleen takes over the parish bookkeeping duties and becomes embroiled in a series of events the Church views as scandalous.

In each situation, the women question their commitment to their vocation as well as questioning the Church. As each decides to leave the sisterhood, we wonder how they will cope in a world so different from the one they abandoned more than twelve years before?

Debbie Macomber has penned another beautiful novel. The characters are so rich and alive that they could be real people. I laughed and cried through the women's various struggles with obedience and then with re-learning to live in the world. The touching plot engrosses the reader in the lives and families of Angie, Joanna, and Kathleen, and the ending brings us full circle to the present day.

Changing Habits is a bit rough on the Catholic Church, which some readers may find offensive. Given the struggles the Church has been facing recently, I think Ms. Macomber handles each situation with mercy and grace. Readers will be touched and moved by the stories of these three women and will learn something about themselves in the process.

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