In 1928, a 16-year-old girl was assaulted in the woods by a stranger while attending a picnic. Months later she learned she was pregnant. Sent away to live, first, with relatives and then at a Lutheran home for unwed mothers, the girl became a mother faced with a choice: give her daughter up for adoption to a family or keep her and live with the stigma of being a single mother.
She’d carry the decision to give up her daughter, whom she named Betty Jane, mostly in secret for almost 80 years. And then a miracle answer to prayer: a phone call would reunite the two women and renew a relationship that even eight decades couldn’t destroy.
This is the story of The Waiting, a debut book by Cathy LaGrow, whose grandmother is the woman, Minka, who gave up the child and on her daughter’s 77th birthday prayed for a chance to see her baby girl one more time. (Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book from Tyndale House Publishers through the Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for my review.)
So much more than a family history, The Waiting is a stunning narrative that reads like a novel. (It could be a movie and we’d all be ugly crying. It’s that good.) LaGrow, and contributor Cindy Coloma, have pieced together a story that spans almost a century, thousands of miles and two families connected by blood but with no idea either existed.
I was impressed with the details and meticulous research, the emotions that practically jumped off the page. I could see the story unfold, and I’m so grateful for this family sharing their lives and the incredible way God brought together all things for good.
I was moved to tears and had to set the book down a few times for fear that if I engaged fully, I’d be unable to go on with my day. Steadfast love, forgiveness, sacrifice and so.much.joy make up the overall themes of this story.
By the end, I wanted to meet Minka, a remarkable woman of 100 years whose vigor, patience and dedication are inspiring. A story like hers could have easily died with her and reminded me of the importance of sharing stories across generations.
You can read the first chapter here. But don’t say I didn’t warn you. You’ll want to keep reading.
It’s hard to imagine a woman living such a full life in spite of the crushing loss. And it’s harder to imagine that God could bring such beauty out of the brokenness. But she did and He did and The Waiting tells it beautifully.