Leaving Yesterday by Kathryn Cushman explores a multitude of social and moral crises: drug use, divorce, grief, murder, and adultery. All are framed around a mother’s desire to protect her son and the price that protection may exact.
Alisa Stewart is well acquainted with loss and heartbreak, her oldest son having been murdered in New Orleans a few years prior. Her second son, Kurt, is caught in the throes of drug addiction. When a policeman comes to her door, she assumes Kurt is dead, the drugs finally taking his life. Instead, the officer is investigating the murder of a known drug dealer that Kurt has dealt with in the past. When Kurt calls for the first time in months and tells Alisa he has checked himself into rehab, Alisa chooses to hope for the best though her forced optimism leads only to self-deception. Alisa discovers evidence that could implicate Kurt and makes a decision that will affect both her and Kurt’s futures.
Alisa is a believer, on staff at her church, and a successful grief counselor. She has been careful to present an image of strength and hope, a pretense that begins to deteriorate in light of Kurt’s struggles and her own struggling marriage. Her faith is tested and Alisa realizes she is not all she pretended to be.
Leaving Yesterday is written in Alisa’s voice, making it a deeply personal story. At times I grew frustrated with Alisa’s dogged self-deception and her sometimes willful determination to avoid what must be true. All is wrapped up rather neatly at the end–and don’t get me wrong, I like neat endings–but after wading through the ethical and moral quagmire presented by Alisa and Kurt’s choices, a neat ending seemed a little too neat.
All in all, Leaving Yesterday is a compelling and honest exploration of a mother’s love and grief and what it means to believe God even in heartbreak and disappointment.
Thanks to Bethany House publishers for providing a review copy. If you’re interested, Bethany has provided an excerpt of Leaving Yesterday HERE.
One of you (U.S. and Canadian residents only) can win a copy as well. Please leave a comment if you’d like to win. The winner will be announced on March 17 in our giveaway post.
Wife and mother, Bible teacher and blogger, Lisa loves Jesus, coffee, dark chocolate and, of course, books. Read more of her reflections at Lisa writes….