Author: Sharon Garlough Brown
Series: Sensible Shoes, book 3
Major Themes: Faith, Forgiveness, Friendships, Healing
Synopsis: Four women continue their journey to grow closer to God, and encounter places they need to surrender to Him as they go.
I’ve been enjoying the Sensible Shoes series this past year, and finally got up to reading Barefoot! Once I got into this book, there was no stopping—I read the bulk of it in two days, staying up until after midnight one night to finish it. I didn’t expect the story to grip me so quickly, nor reprimand me quite so much as this one did, but I’m very thankful for both of those qualities!
Hannah has been staying with Meg frequently over the past months, and as her relationship with Nate continues to grow, she starts to wonder if she’s supposed to go in a different direction than she first anticipated. When her reputation is called into question, she has to figure out how to weather that storm in quietness and patience. Meg’s disappointment over her trip to England leaves her needing to give her daughter completely into God’s hands. With bigger challenges ahead of her, learning to trust God with everything is even more important—but she still hasn’t come to a place of being able to forgive her mother yet, even though she feels like that’s what the Lord wants of her. Charissa is learning to accept her new circumstances, and perhaps even thrive in them—but when other people start trying to give her input where she doesn’t want it, it’s hard to take everything sitting down. Letting go of control and expectations is nearly impossible. And Mara has her own struggles—with her two boys at home and continuing controversy with her almost ex-husband, she must learn to rest in God at the moment, and let go of the hurt and bitterness she’s carried all these years.
I love how Sharon Garlough Brown leads us through the story, following each woman’s perspective. Though I thought I knew which one I resonated with the most in Sensible Shoes, the first book, now I’m not so sure—there are nuances in each of these women that resonate with me, and each one challenges me in different ways.
The subtitle of Barefoot is A story of surrendering to God, and I loved that an entire book was dedicated to that topic. Through several different recent reads—including Hinds’ Feet on High Places—I feel like this is a subject the Lord has been speaking to me on recently, and I loved seeing how that topic played out in these four women’s lives here. As I often find with truly great Christian fiction, this book stepped on my toes and encouraged me—a combination I love. Seeing their decision to surrender to God—and the ways they came to that—encouraged me to lean into it myself, rather than resisting. I appreciated the challenge this book gave me.
There was one aspect of the story I didn’t appreciate so much, though. One of the characters felt like God was leading her to marry a divorced man, and while I understand that that is a common belief these days, I don’t believe that lines up with what the Bible says we should do. While this book was excellent in every other way, I couldn’t agree with that portion. They end up getting married in the last chapter.
WARNING: See the last paragraph. Also throughout the book, there are mentions of people who had been sleeping around or had affairs. No descriptions. A few women are described as pastors. Frickin’ is used in ch. 1; crap is used in ch. 2 (twice), 5 (three times), 6, and 10; blasted is used in ch. 3; “oh, gawd” is used in ch. 4; swear is used in ch. 9 and 10; bleeping is used in ch. 10; hell is used in ch. 11; and flipping is used in ch. 12. Someone lies in ch. 5. A boy is disrespectful to his mother in ch. 2. A woman remembers being raped in ch. 2, pg. 61—this is referenced later on in the book and retold briefly in ch. 5, pg. 133 (also a mention both places that a baby was conceived then). Someone who tried to commit suicide is mentioned in ch. 3. A man is smoking in ch. 14, and someone dies. There are kisses and some touching (hands on face, a hug, etc.) between an unmarried couple in ch. 3, 10, 12, and 14. Mom (Emma) also had this to say: “Page 240: a small wooden cross was given to Meg to hold for ‘wordless prayer.’ This feels like a fetish to me, something physical that has a connection to spirits.”
Reading Independently—Ages 15 and Above, Adults