Note: This copy was given to me before its book release by the author/publisher, as per requested, in Net Galley in exchange of an honest review.
This novel was a breath of fresh air in so many ways. It’s been so long since I’ve read a Christian chicklit novel. The last Christian chicklit I’ve read was…Claire Knows Best by Tracey Bateman and that was roughly 4-5 years ago (blame it on the four years I’ve been reading Rick Riordan and other YA novels. Didn’t regret it, though). And while I’ve been reading adult fiction novels recently, what I’ve read usually have a huge amount of suspense and/or steaminess involved. Either that, or I’m navigating the banks of mainstream YA looking for unknown treasures.
Beulah Land, wayward daughter of a Baptist deacon, had a rough life with one tragedy occurring after another and she has lost whatever little faith she has. She spends her nights playing piano at The Fountain, a honky-tonk across the County Line Methodist church. When she learns that a dear friend’s dying wish is for her to take over as the church’s piano player, things turn around. With Luke Daniels as the new minister of County Line and who is determined to stick to tradition despite the decreasing attendants of the church, the choir of the church does not seem to approve of Beulah’s contemporary take of the old songs and refuses to perform. But Beulah isn’t ready to give up. She assembles a ragtag group of people from The Fountain and formed The Happy Hour Choir.
I can’t seem to believe that this is a debut novel. The Happy Hour Choir was a delightful read and would easily be at the top of my list of favorite Christian novels. It’s very seldom to see this group of characters that, together, just made the novel. The characters were fully-developed and so relatable in their own ways. And having the story be seen in Beulah’s perspective gives this story this dimension that makes it so raw and real. Beulah is stubborn, feisty, sassy and witty yet she’s also kind and loyal to the people who matters to her. But I’d say that among this group of lovable characters, the person that really touched my heart was Ginger. Through the end, she was sassy and so thoughtful.
The story unfolded in such a smooth and wonderful way that makes it so easy for me to want to continue reading it. It was those moments when the characters show a hint of vulnerability that I can feel them, connect to them. And there were moments that made me shed a tear or two. And I loved how it had a slight steaminess in it because it shows the contemporary setting it’s in. There were moments when I couldn’t figure out what was happening and that the pacing seemed to be inconsistent.
Overall, The Happy Hour Choir is a roller-coaster ride of emotions–of happiness and snarks, and utter vulnerability of people. And what I came to realize with this novel is that it isn’t just the story of Beulah Land. It’s a story of so many people told in the perspective of Beulah. Of people struggling to have faith–if not in God, then to have faith in the people who cared about them and in their own self.