Title: Two Steps Forward
Author: Sharon Garlough Brown
Series: Sensible Shoes, book 2
Major Themes: Faith, Forgiveness, Friendships, Healing, Women’s Fiction
Synopsis: Four women try to follow the Lord and work through life’s problems together in this sequel in the Sensible Shoes series.
I was thankful I got to read Two Steps Forward recently! A friend loaned me the remainder of the books that I hadn’t read yet, and after reading Sensible Shoes, I knew I didn’t want to stop with the first one! This book felt very similar to the first—perhaps slightly less study material in it, but the characters are still the same, and their struggles are still very real. I appreciated this story a lot.
Hannah, Charissa, Mara, and Meg are all fighting their own battles. Now in a relationship, Hannah is still trying to learn to rest and trust the Lord rather than follow her built-in pastor mode. With her boyfriend’s former wife coming back into the picture, life isn’t easy for him, either—and with some of the other women’s lives falling apart, she’s trying to work out how to support them and yet not be overbearing in her advice. For Charissa, now that she’s nearing the end of the semester and trying to deal with pregnancy and all the other things weighing on her life, she’s not sure where to turn or what to do. Her perfect life is crumbling around her, and no matter what she does to try to fix it, it just keeps on breaking. Mara has her own struggles, but is also learning to lean on the Lord more and trying to keep her eyes in His direction…but it isn’t easy, with her marriage dissolving at the seams and two sons who are struggling to keep their footing in it all. And for Meg, life has taken a turn she didn’t expect. She’s off on her first real adventure—a trip to England to visit her daughter—but when she arrives, Becca’s absence screams her preoccupation with other things. Then, she discovers that Becca has started dating a man twice her age—how is she supposed to handle that? How can she love her daughter, even when she’s doing something completely against her conscience and the Lord Meg raised her to know?
Two Steps Forward is an excellent sequel to Sensible Shoes. I loved seeing how the characters had grown and yet still had so much to learn yet—from the ones that seemed like pretty good Christians at the beginning to the ones that were struggling, every one is being tried at their weak places, and, in the end, will be the stronger for it. This book encouraged me, because often I bemoan my failings, the times that I turn the wrong way instead of the right, and suffer for it. Here, I saw a reflection of me—and a reflection of the hope we have in Christ.
Though this is written as a novel, it also feels almost like a devotional in some ways. The pacing isn’t always fast, but it kept me glued to the page—and as you go through the book, there are little gems to pull out and digest. Such as this quote that really struck me:
“I was so anxious about knowing his will, so eager to be obedient. Worried I wouldn’t hear correctly. Then it hit me. I was putting all of my confidence in MY ability to hear God, instead of placing confidence in HIS desire to speak in a way that I could understand.” —Hannah
I’d recommend this book to anyone wanting a solid book to read that will both challenge and inspire them, as well as giving them a strong storyline and cast of characters.
WARNING: Please keep in mind that this is an adult read aimed at women. The word crap appears throughout the book, in nearly every chapter. Swear is used in pg. 13, 74; goodness is used in pg. 58, 260; blasted is used in pg. 68, 147, 247; heck is used on pg. 141, “speak of the devil” on pg. 167, and hell on pg. 182. There is lying on pg. 34, 73, 112, and 231. A woman’s breast is described from a memory in ch. 3, pg. 67. A woman tells how she had to have a hysterectomy in ch. 4, pg. 97. In the same chapter, a woman has a miscarriage scare, with some details around that. A boy talks about how his dad thought he could have been aborted on pg. 146. A man talks about getting a tattoo to remind himself of something on pg. 205, and on pg. 252, a woman decides to get her ears pierced for the same reason.
Throughout the book, a divorced man and woman date, and there are multiple instances of hand-touching, hugs, etc. A few times, there are brief mentions of a kiss, but no description. Also throughout the book, one character’s child is dressing immodestly, dating a man twice her age, and there are some descriptions of what they did together (at one point, she admits that they were sleeping together—this can be surmised from, although it isn’t directly stated, in a bedroom scene in ch. 5, pg. 127). A mother remembers finding condoms and marijuana in her son’s possession on pg. 76. On pg. 83, a woman talks about how she seduced a man and ended up pregnant (the word sex is used several times throughout the book in different conversations, such as on pg. 94). On pg. 111, a woman remembers a man physically throwing her around when he was angry. A woman finds out she is being divorced on pg. 170. On pg. 227, there is a bit of discussion about a woman who had an affair, got a divorce, and remarried.
Reading Independently—Ages 15 and Above, Adults