About the Book
Author: Jennifer Sienes
Genre: Christian Contemporary
Release Date: April 28, 2020
Corey Schaffer, pastor’s wife and mother of two teens, has spent her entire marriage subconsciously repenting for one reckless night the week before her wedding.
Upon discovery of Corey’s indiscretion, her 17-year-old daughter, Taylor, is in a car accident resulting in a weeklong coma, traumatic brain injury and memory loss. Corey is riddled with guilt and would like nothing better than to confess all to her husband, Paul. But how can she when his pastoral position is at risk, thanks to their son’s thoughtless act of rebellion the year before—an act Paul has yet to forgive?
Instead, Corey loses herself in the day-to-day work of Taylor’s rehabilitation and prays God will give her the courage to face the past. But when a disgruntled church member sees an opportunity for revenge, Corey must find the faith and strength to put her family first, even if it means walking away.
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About the Author
Jennifer Sienes holds a bachelor’s in psychology and a master’s in education, but discovered life-experience is the best teacher. She loves Jesus, romance and writing—and puts it altogether in inspirational contemporary fiction. Her daughter’s TBI and brother’s suicide inspired two of her three novels. Although fiction writing is her real love, she’s had several non-fiction pieces published in anthologies including several in Chicken Soup for the Soul. She has two grown children and one very spoiled Maltese. California born and raised, she recently took a step of faith with her real-life hero and relocated to Tennessee.
More from Jennifer
Since I was twelve years old, I’ve been writing stories. I even wrote fan-fiction before it was a thing—a Happy Days episode, which I’m sure dates me. I took every creative writing class I could, starting in high school, and even declared journalism as my college major until I realized I like fiction a whole lot more than truth because I can create the characters any way I like.
However, my first attempts at writing emotionally charged novels fell flat; I hadn’t lived enough to truly understand what deep emotion felt like. Then life happened—a series of tragedies that made me feel I was more on par with Job than with Jesus. Someone wise told me that all writers must find the core of why they write—that deep part of us that God instilled in our hearts. What is it we, as writers, want to communicate to our readers? What I came away with was that we all need hope, especially in our darkest days.
Illusions was born out of a near-fatal car accident my daughter was in only weeks after her eighteenth birthday. It was walking through that accident with her that started the what if questions years later. What if an accident is the result of a mother/daughter argument? What if that argument was caused by something the mother did in her past—a deep, dark secret that even she cannot face? And what if that mother is held to a higher standard than most others? Say the wife of a pastor? And what if that pastor already has a black mark against him because of an act their other child (a boy) previously committed?
Would the congregation turn against him? We all know people in church who seek any opportunity to throw a wrench into things—that live with a big ol’ log in their eye, blinding them from the concept of grace.
To add to the tension (because, what’s the point of a story without it?), what if the accident caused a traumatic brain injury and the daughter remembers nothing? It may not be on par with Sophie’s Choice, but now a mother is torn between wanting her daughter to be whole again and hoping the deep, dark secret remains lost somewhere in the recesses of her mind.
Admittedly, the two children of Corey and Paul Schaffer (the main characters) are based loosely on my own children, Nicole and Christopher. It is so much easier to write what I can easily envision in my mind. And many of the challenges Taylor (the accident victim) faces were actually those my own daughter experienced. But that’s where truth and fiction part ways. So, Illusions started with inspiration, but God took it to whole new level. It’s one of the ways He uses the challenges I’ve faced in life to connect with readers and hopefully give them His inspiration and encouragement.
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To celebrate her tour, Jennifer is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon & a copy of the book!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
This is a very powerful story with so many lessons to be gleaned: marriage, fear of man, preferences in church, forgiveness.
The first chapter will grab you and drag you right into the middle of the mess of this story. Next we go to a flashback that leads up to the opening scene. A very impactful way to begin a book.
With that being said I had a couple of issues with some things. I can’t say too much because it will give be kind of a spoiler. But Corey makes a choice about half way through the book broke my heart. I can’t imagine a mother doing what she did. It honestly really bothered me and made me not like her as much.
There were also a couple of inaccuracies with Corey and her teaching. I won’t get into all of it, this is just a pet peeve of mine, I am a teacher and I know how things really work, but that did bother me.
With all that being said, it really is good story. This family has to deal with some very tough things. I saw my husband and son in the relationship between Paul and Michael and that made me sad…it wasn’t good, but spot on.
I could say so much more about the truths in this story but this review is long enough. Overall, a very good read.
Grab your copy at your local bookstore, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your favorite retailer.
A copy of this book was given to me through the Celebrate Lit Team. All opinions are my own.
Thank you so much for your thoughtful review.
I liked the review and also the book cover.
Wonderful review, Melissa! Thank you for sharing.
This sounds like a great read.