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Leota’s garden was once a place of beauty, where flowers bloomed and hope thrived. It was her refuge from the deep wounds inflicted by a devastating war, her sanctuary where she knelt before a loving God and prayed for the children who couldn’t understand her silent sacrifices.
Now, eighty-four-year-old Leota Reinhardt is alone, her beloved garden in ruins. All her efforts to reconcile with her adult children have been fruitless, and she voices her despair to a loving Father, her only friend.
Then God brings a wind of change through unlikely means: one, a college student who thinks he has all the answers; the other, the granddaughter Leota never hoped to know. But can the devastation wrought by keeping painful family secrets be repaired before she runs out of time?
Acclaimed Christian fiction writer Francine Rivers’s (The Atonement Child) Leota’s Garden uses the image of the garden as a metaphor for the cycles of life that the characters experience. While the story revolves around a number of lives, they are all connected through Leota–an 84-year-old grandmother–and her garden, which was once a place of beauty and hope but has in recent years gone to ruin. Beginning in desolation–Leota has been neglected by her self-centered daughter, whose obsession with getting her own daughter into the best college has driven them apart–the novel slowly shows the weaving together of lives in the mysterious ways of grace: a proud and narrow-minded college student ends up learning more from Leota than he’d bargained for, and the granddaughter Leota had never been allowed to know shows up looking for some answers, and even more, looking for Leota herself. A garden blooms, the novel suggests, by getting one’s hands a little dirty doing the hard work of love. –Doug Thorpe