Sweet Caroline, by Rachel Hauck

Sweet CarolineFinished 9-4-08, rating 4/5, inspirational fiction, pub. 2008

This is the first inspirational fiction book that I’ve read.  I’m not sure what my expectations were, but I’d have to say I was pleasantly surprised.  I guess I thought that inspirational fiction would offer a sanitized view of the world, but instead of that being a bad thing I found it to be a sweet look at the world, even if that sweetness was unbelievable at times.

Caroline is in her late 20’s, single, and floating through life by helping other people with their lives instead of making one of her own.  The owner of the cafe where she works has died and left the cafe to her.  The place is a money pit and Caroline struggles with whether to stay and save the cafe or to take a plum job in Spain.  Her life is further complicated by her dating a reformed ladies man while her first true loves comes back to town.  And it is during this time that she attends church and feels the presence of God in her life.

This is a nice story that feels like the South Carolina low country it is set in.  The writing was good and kept me reading into the night.  There were many storylines woven together with real skill.  The finding God storyline was one that I found moving without being preachy.  That being said, some things were a little too good.  I’ve never had a car dealer make a deal with me and then throw in an extra $1000 because he thinks I’m a good person and I know there are many virgins in their late 20’s, but they and their dates have issues with it that never really came up in this book.  So there were a few things that didn’t ring quite true for me.

I would recommend this book.  I think you’ll really like Caroline and her story.  Essentially, it’s one woman’s quest to make her way in the world on her own terms.  I will gladly read more inspirational fiction, especially when I need to be reassured that the world is not always the cynical place it’s made out to be.