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At the Scent of Water    by Linda Nichols order for
At the Scent of Water
by Linda Nichols
Order:  USA  Can
Bethany, 2004 (2004)
Hardcover, Paperback
* * *   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

Sam Truelove is a gifted pediatric heart surgeon. He performs surgeries that many doctors won't even touch, with miraculous results. He married his childhood sweetheart, Annie, and they had a beautiful daughter, Margaret. But life changed for the Trueloves in the blink of an eye four years before, when back-to-back tragedies tore their world apart.

Annie, unable to cope with her grief, walks away from their North Carolina home and moves to Seattle. Sam throws himself into his work, sometimes logging eighteen-hour days at the hospital. Each year, Sam asks Annie to return, to give their marriage another chance. But Annie is both unwilling and unable to overcome her despair and anger with God, and she fails to show up for their arranged meetings. When she is offered a job with the Los Angeles Times, she decides to file for divorce and start her life anew. Yet the past returns to haunt her, and Annie goes back to North Carolina to put the old memories to rest once and for all. Will Sam and Annie be able to forgive themselves and each other?

Linda Nichols vividly portrays grief, love, and forgiveness. Many characters' stories are woven together to complete a beautiful picture of God's power working in human lives. Both Sam and Annie suffered the same tragedy in the loss of their daughter, yet each handles it in a unique way. Having personally experienced the loss of a child myself, their raw and bitter emotions - surrounding the incident and in its aftermath - resonated deeply in my heart. The questions they ask of each other and of God are realistic and thought-provoking. Secondary characters - including Sam's mother, Annie's father and stepmother - add depth and meaning, and help make the pieces of the story fit together in an evocative way.

Repeatedly, the characters (and the reader) are reminded that God can handle any questions, any anger, and especially our complete honesty. Readers will come away from this book with a deeper sense of God's grace, mercy, and love. At the Scent of Water would make an excellent book for reading groups. Discussion questions are available on the Bethany House website. Linda Nichols' gift for capturing emotion and the deeper questions on readers' minds put her at the top of my not-to-be-missed author list.

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