Book Review: The Opposite of Fate, by Alison McGhee

(This blog post contains Amazon Affiliate Links. As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you).

This week, I read the book The Opposite of Fate, by Alison McGhee for the 2020 reading challenge that I am participating in. This is the second book that I am reading for the reading challenge. The first was The Beekeeper of Aleppo, by Christy Lefteri, and you can find the review here.

Title: The Opposite of Fate

Author: Alison McGhee

Star Rating: 4/5

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I give this book 4 stars out of a possible 5 stars. It has an excellent premise with good character development. However, I felt that the reading was a bit slow and at times a bit boring, as well as a bit rough in some parts.

What It’s About

The Opposite of Fate starts out nice and slow, which is fitting considering that the central character has just woken up from a coma. The character’s name is Mallie. She wakes up to find that nearly her entire support network has disintegrated during the 18 months that she was “sleeping.” The only person who is at the hospital, waiting for her to wake up, is an older friend and father figure, William T. Her mother had died of cancer, her long term boyfriend had left to start over in another state, and her younger brother had left for college.

Mallie wakes up from her coma, completely unaware of the events that had transpired. When she finds out that she had had a baby while she was comatose, she leaves her town with nothing more than an old car, her cell phone, and a box filled with newspaper clippings and old memories. She heads for another city in another state. She heads for the one person who once cared about her and was her rock.

While this journey takes place, the people around her struggle to make sense with and overcome the events that have transpired. The first is William T, who advocated for terminating the pregnancy, as it was a reminder of the night that Mallie was attacked, raped, and left for dead. The second is her younger brother, Charlie, who left for college to try to escape what happened as he still blames himself for the incident. The third is her boyfriend Zach, who stayed through the end of the pregnancy, but then left without any explanation. The fourth is the perpetrator of the rape, who has been tormented by guilt of what happened that night and still hasn’t told anyone, not even his mother and his baby sister, what happened.

The book is primarily told from the point of views of Mallie and William T. One character is completely in the dark, having no idea what happened since the night of the incident. The other character knows what happened after, but then is taken for a surprise with a shocking revelation at the end of the book. Intricately weaving their stories back and forth, the book slowly reveals what happened since and most importantly how all the characters are dealing with the aftermath of the situation.

Why You Should Read

The Opposite of Fate is an analysis of what happens after a traumatic event such as a rape. Who gets to decide what happens to the pregnancy, particularly when the woman literally has no say? In that case, who has the right to say what should happen? Should the pregnancy be terminated, because it was a result of such a violent act? Or should they let the fetus grow inside the comatose woman, because it is a potential person? Whatever they ultimately decide, this book is about choices.

This book examines the ramification of choice and what happens when society takes that from you. In the book, Mallie had her right to decide what she wanted to do with the pregnancy revoked. There was a huge debate all across her city, and even the nation, as people from her mom to her father figure fought against each other, as both had differing opinions on how the pregnancy should be dealt with. The choice was taken from Mallie. Later, she has to learn to deal with the consequences of a choice that she never made.

Along the way of Mallie’s cross county journey to her old boyfriend Zach, she starts to adjust and accept the consequences of that choice. One important theme that this book highlights is that no matter what bad thing happens that is out of our control we must learn to live with it. We must fight the bad, and the darkness, by being bigger than it.

The darkness that haunts Mallie is what happened during the night of the incident. Indeed, Mallie refers to the perpetrator of the rape as Darkness. There is not a lot of detail as to what happened and why, but that is fitting, because this book is more about the consequences of a bad choice and not the actual event itself. Mallie imagines Darkness to be a normal man who is tormented by the incident, constantly questioning whether he should turn himself in. I like that Darkness is portrayed as an average, everyday man, showing that good people can make bad choices.

People make choices everyday, some good and some bad. Another theme that this book examines is that children are certainly affected by the choices that adults make, but they are not their parents. This is particularly relevant in the case of Mallie and her younger brother, whose Mom joins a cult-like church and from then on starts to be heavily influenced by the church. It is also relevant in Mallie’s unborn child, who was conceived out of rape and violence. If the pregnancy is allowed to proceed, would it be just like the biological father? Or, would it be able to rise above that, creating good from evil?

Influences are central in this book, particularly by those who may share none of our blood. This book examines that you don’t have to have the same blood to love someone. This is true in William T., who has looked after Mallie and her brother as his own kids even though he isn’t their biological father. This is also true in William T’s love for his wife or Mallie’s love for her boyfriend. But whether we share the same blood or not, we must create a strong support network in order to heal, grow, and eventually thrive.

Overall, this is a solid book about not just the choices that we make, but how these choices affect us, the wider community, and ultimately how we must live with these choices. It is a book about pain, loss, and ultimately finding the courage to heal. It is how we deal with the choices that are made that determines who we really are.

(Click on the book above to get your own copy of this book today!)

What book are you currently reading? I just may add it to my TBR list!

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Book Review: The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri

(This blog post contains Amazon Affiliate Links. As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you).

A week ago, I blogged about my intention of participating in a reading challenge. You can find the list of books that I plan to read here.

The first book on that list was The Beekeeper of Aleppo written by Christy Lefteri. I had actually saw this book in the best selling section of the library. The blurb looked promising. The first page was engaging. The book cover gave me peaceful vibes. I decided to give it a try.

I’m glad that I did. I’m glad that I chose to begin the challenge with this book. Despite the depressing storyline, it is nevertheless very engaging and a page turner. From the first page, I was hooked.

What It’s About

The Beekeeper of Aleppo is about a husband and wife living in Syria during the Civil War. Besides the destruction and turmoil from the political situation in the country, the couple is also undergoing their own civil war. They are still grieving over the loss of their young son. The wife, who previously was a painter, is now blind. The husband takes care of his wife’s physical needs. He is suffering emotionally too from their tragic loss. Their relationship was not what it once was.

They are motivated to leave Syria, however, after a threat against the husband’s life. They decide to head for the UK, where the husband has a cousin who has very recently headed there. What follows next is a couple’s tumultuous journey over land and water as they seek safety and sanctuary. They also start to slowly find their way back to each other, letting both of their inner and outer wounds heal.

Why You Should Read

The text is eloquently written, using key descriptive words and pivotal dialogue to let you envision the scenes playing before your eyes.

What I like most is how each chapter is divided: the first part shows how they are coping in the present and the second part shows their journey to the UK from Syria. Furthermore, the last word in the present day scenes is also the first word in the past scenes. I think this is effective as it shows that we can never truly escape our past. The present and the past are forever connected. This is an important theme in this book. The husband and wife are both haunted by the death of their son and memories of their life together in their home country.

Another important theme in this book is the idea of grief. When someone dies, we cannot completely heal from it without some form of closure. How long should you spend mourning the loss of someone we hold dear? When is it, if ever, okay to start to pick up the pieces and move on?

In this book, both the husband and wife deal with the grief of their son in different ways. The wife, who was formally a painter, is now blind and so she turns inwardly to herself, not showing any outward emotion. The husband shows his grief by not allowing himself to feel things. Instead his grief manifests himself in other ways, such as hallucinating people or things that are remind him of his son. Moreover, he finds himself doing things that he never wanted or expected to do.

In short, this book is a poignant account of one couple’s struggle with grief and ultimately documents their path toward healing from that grief. This topic is something that should be explored more in today’s culture. Too often, we are expected to put a lid on our grief. We are expected to not feel things, when sometimes experiencing our emotions is the best thing that we can do before we explode.

I give this book five stars for not only its excellent plot and character development but its willingness to raise the important issues that we need to address in society.

This book is available on and available to purchase on #PrimeDay:

What was the last book that made you feel something?

10 Sizzling Books to Read Before the End of 2020

Let’s be honest. Between work and motherhood, I hardly have much time to read. But I want to change that. We are nearly halfway through October, of the Covid-19 year. We are only two months away from 2021 (I wonder what 2021 will bring). I don’t want these last two months to be in vain. I want to read more books. I want to indulge myself in the literary world. I want to delve deep, head first, into a pool of words and imagination. I want to be wake up with the page of a book stuck to my cheek.

But, I think I have the solution!

Recently, I read about a 20 Books for Christmas 2020 book challenge over on The Spoonie Mommy. The challenge was originally created by Tea and Cake for the Soul. The challenge is actually for 20 books. But I’m going to adapt it to my lifestyle and what I think could be realistic for me. I will set my sights low, and read only ten books. Depending on progress, I may update this post, or add a part two a month or so from today.

Feel free to follow me on my Instagram or my Twitter to keep track of my progress or to give me a little nudge.

My To-Read List for 2020

1–The Book of Two Ways, by Jodi Picoult

Because Picoult is my favorite writer.

See also: Book Review: My Sister’s Keeper, by Jodi Picoult

2–The Beekeeper of Aleppo, by Christy Lefteri

See also: Book Review: The Beekeeper of Aleppo

One of my recent finds at my local library.

3–Meg & Jo, by Virginia Kantra

Another find at the library.

4–The Opposite of Fate, by Alison McGhee

See also: Book Review: The Opposite of Fate, by Alison McGhee

Yet another book I picked up at the library recently.

5–Dear Edward, by Ann Napolitano

A book that I have on request at the library. There is a long line ahead of me, so we will see if I’m able to snag a copy before the end of 2020.

6–The Evening and The Morning, by Ken Follett

This book is the prequel to The Pillars of the Earth, which I read all the way back in 10th grade. I really enjoyed this book then so when I saw there was finally a prequel I just had to put it on my list.

7–Someone Knows, by Lisa Scottoline

I have read a few books by Scottoline, so I am excited to read another one of hers.

See also: Book Review: Look Again, by Lisa Scottoline

8–Circe, by Madeline Miller

9–(to be added)

10–(to be added)

Now, these last three will be filled in as the weeks progress. Sometimes I do like to go to the library and grab what looks good. I’m hoping that will be the case for #7-#10. But if you have a suggestion, then please do let me know in the comments below. I just may add it to my list.

What books are you currently reading, or do you plan to read?

Book Review: Look Again by Lisa Scottoline

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(This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. As an Amazon associate, I may earn a small commission from any purchases made through these links).

I first read this book five years ago. I can’t remember where I bought it. It was probably at Walmart or Target. I remember seeing the cover and then reading the summary on the back — I was immediately hooked.

Since then, I’ve read this book many, many times. It is one of those books that you can’t help but gravitate towards, like a persistent friend who just won’t go away. I reread it because the characters feel like family. I reread it because it makes me think and wonder. I reread it because the writing is very well done. And finally, I reread it because I really like this book.

What It’s About

This book is about what happens when a mother is forced to question everything that she knows about her life, her family, and her son. The mother, Ellen, comes home one day and finds a picture of a missing boy in the mail who resembles her adopted son. The resemblance is almost uncanny. It continues to crop up for days until she can’t ignore it. She finds herself thinking about the picture of the missing boy at home and at work. She finally decides to find out the truth.

She decides to find out the truth, even after knowing that she could lose her son. If her son is missing because he was kidnapped, then the adoption is no longer valid. But she still decides to go see her son’s birth parents to get the proof that she needs.

During the search for Ellen’s adopted son’s biological family, Ellen unearths some details that point to the possibility that something sinister is going on. After the deaths of some very intricate people involved in her son’s adoption, she soon realizes that both she and her son are in danger. She grabs her son and tries to escape, afraid that the killer will be after them too. But she is too late. She comes into contact with the killer — as well as someone she never expected.

Why You Should Read

This is a quick page turner. From the first page, I am immediately drawn in. I feel for the protagonist, Ellen, as she grapples with a series of emotions: shock, sadness, curiosity, and determination. All of these emotions are fueled by her love for her adopted son, who she puts above everything, even her own job.

Everything that Ellen feels is precisely why you should read this book. It’s a tragedy, but primarily it is a story of a mother’s love. It’s a story of a mother who would do anything for her child. It’s a story of a mother who moves heaven and earth to find answers for her kid. The incredible strength and determination that Ellen possesses despite her circumstances is admirable.

It’s also a story of what happens when selfish people act in their own interests. What if those selfish people have children? How do the children fare? What happens to them ultimately?

This book raises so many questions about adoption and a mother’s love. It provides ample discussion for the reader even after the last page has been read. It makes you ruminate about bad things that happen to good people. And finally, without giving away the ending, it gives you hope that perhaps happiness can still be found even in the most extraordinary of circumstances.

What book have you read recently? I am always looking for new book ideas!

5 Top Things You Must Do Before Sitting Down to Write a Book

Photo by Lum3n on

So, you’ve done it! You’ve decided that you want to write a book. You sit down at your desk, in front of your computer, fingers poised over the keyboard, but then you pause. You stop. You think. All you have is a wish, a want, and a dream. You want to create. You want to write a book. But that’s all.

Well, I have news for you ladies and gentlemen. It’s not enough to just want to write a book. You need something more. You can’t just want it. You’ve got to be prepared. After all it is when preparation meets good writing that a great book starts to take shape.

1–You Need a GREAT Idea

Perhaps the most important thing you need is a GREAT idea. You need inspiration. You need to activate that imagination. You need to dream. Dream of another world with people who have wants, needs, conflicts, all that stuff. Become a part of that world. Turn that GREAT idea into a world fueled by electrifying imagination.

2–You Need to Research

Once you have that GREAT idea, you need to do your research. If you are writing from the perspective of a cancer patient, it might be a good idea to jump on the internet and research cancer. Read books and articles about the doctors, patients, and their family members who have personally experienced this devastating tragedy. Literally put yourself into their shoes. Feel what it feels to be in that situation. Do what it takes to learn as much as possible about what you plan to write. After all, the best writers should always write what they know. Don’t speculate or guess. Fact check and fact check again. And then write with your emotions.

3–Get To Know the REAL MVP’s

Sit down and list the names of the characters, particularly the main characters. Who will be the main characters? Write a paragraph or a draw a diagram of their likes, dislikes, and personality? What do they like to do? What makes them angry? What do they behave the way they do? Get to know your characters the same way that you get to know a friend. After all, these characters, these people, will be in your head and out for the next three… six…nine months, or possibly several years. They will be like family to you. In fact, closer than family. So definitely take the time to get to know them. You won’t be sorry that you did!


Your teachers have probably told you again and again the importance of outlining before writing that killer A+ essay. Well, writing a story or a novel is no different. It is just as important to write an awesome outline. It doesn’t have to be very detailed. Though the more detailed the better! But at least write down what you hope to write or cover in each chapter or section. Most importantly, write down where you hope to begin and where you hope for the characters to end up. Sometimes knowing where you are heading to can be very helpful. That way you are leading, or writing up, to the end. It can help to keep you on track so that you won’t deviate your plot too much throughout the writing process.


No, no, no, it’s not time to start writing the actual story or book yet. Instead take the time to write an epilogue or the last paragraph or chapter. Where do you hope the character(s) will be? What will they be like after journeying through the pages of your book? How much will they have changed? Will they still be alive? Will they be happy?

What do you do before writing a book or a short story?

The Five Best Hobbies To Do While Social Distancing

Summer 2020 is an interesting summer. It is probably the most interesting summer that I’ve ever experienced during my entire life. With the Coronavirus pandemic rearing its ugly head and the new social distancing and mask requirements, many people have been forced to stay indoors as much as possible. During the summer, the norm is for people to venture outdoors to theme parks and museums. But not this summer.

That’s why I’ve compiled a list of hobbies to do during the Coronavirus pandemic to help curb the boredom. These are hobbies that anyone can do, no matter their age. These hobbies can be done at home, in the backyard, or even in a quiet park away from people.

1–Read books, e-books, audio books, newspapers, magazines

Before Covid-19, we were often too busy to read. So now, let’s step back and read something, anything, and get lost in a world that is totally different from this.

Photo by Stas Knop on

Here are some books for you to read:

2–Knit a scarf or a hat

While being safe at home, try to learn a new hobby like knitting. Order a pair of knitting needles and some yarn in your favorite colors and make a hat or scarf for the winter. Trust me, by the time we venture outside again, it will be freezing and your head or neck will thank you.

Photo by cottonbro on

Check out this book to learn how to knit:

3–Make jewelry

If knitting’s not your thing, then get some beads and string and make yourself a necklace or bracelet. This would a great hobby for the entire family from the tiny toddler to your sixty year old grandmother.

Photo by Luis Quintero on

Check out this book to learn about jewelry making 101:

4–Start a blog, a website or a YouTube channel

Are you good at making something? Do you have something you need to share with the world? Have you always wanted to start a blog, a website, or a YouTube channel but just never had the time? Well, this is the perfect time to harness that creativity and share your wisdom with the world.

Photo by Pixabay on

5–Try some new recipes

Pre-Covid-19, we were often too busy with the hustle and bustle of work and school to cook. We often picked up a meal at a restaurant on the way home from work or school. Or perhaps we threw some stuff in the crockpot and let it do the work for us. Well, let’s take advantage of all the extra time we have and cook some delicious new cuisine.


Here are some phenomenal cookbooks:

What new hobbies have you taken up during the Covid-19 pandemic? What hobbies do you want to learn?

Book Review: My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

(Note: There are Amazon affiliate links in this postAs an Amazon Associate, I may earn commissions from qualifying purchases)

I first read My Sister’s Keeper when I was about thirteen or fourteen. I remember sitting on my bedroom floor, engrossed in its world and characters. I didn’t get up until I had finished reading it, several hours later, with tears flowing down my cheeks. I love books like this that can capture my attention from the beginning and make me feel so many things.

Ultimately, this is a book about sisterhood and family. It’s about loyalty and trust. It’s about love and going to the end of the earth for them. But what happens when that loyalty and trust is destroyed? What happens if one of them just doesn’t want to do it anymore? This book explores that dilemma.

My Sister’s Keeper is told from multiple points of views — the sister (Anna), the parents, the brother, the lawyer, and the lawyer’s old childhood love interest. It tells story in the present and the past, alternating. I think this is an effective technique, allowing the reader to know what’s going on and then learn what happened in the past that led up that point.

The book is basically about a girl, Anna, who was conceived in order to save her sister’s life. From the moment she was born, she had to donate stem cells and cord blood in an attempt to save her older sister from leukemia. Years have went by and her sister Kate’s kidney is failing. Anna has to donate a kidney to her sister or else her sister will die.

The book opens up with Anna seeking out an attorney so that she can sue her parents for the rights to her own body. She says that she wants to be able to have a say in any medical decisions made. Her parents aren’t too happy, and try to fight it every step of the way.

They end up going to court, where the truth comes out, plus a lot more. There is a twist at the end, in which we discover Anna’s real motivation for suing her parents. And then there’s another twist, which is the most heartbreaking moment of all. I still cry when I read that last chapter, as it reminds me of how things can change in an instant that can alter the entire course of your life.

The clashing differences between mom and dad as they both try to support and understand the situation was well done. They both want the best for their two daughters, but at the same time, are stuck between a rock and hard place. They don’t know what’s the best or the right thing to do, but they are trying as best as they can.

The brother is a pyromaniac, and ironically, his dad is a firefighter. His dad helps to protect the town from fires, while his very son doesn’t.

The lawyer has his own demons that he has to face when he comes face-to-face with his childhood love. He tries to escape it, but ultimately can’t, like Anna.

Anna is at the center of all of these characters. She wants to do the right thing for her sister, but doesn’t know what the right thing is. All she knows is that she always wants to be her sister’s sister.

I actually own a copy of this book and I still read this every once in awhile. Like most books by Jodi Picoult, it is so well written. The words and plot scenes flow seamlessly and it’s nearly impossible to put the book down.

I definitely recommend that you add this book to your summer reading list. It is a must for anyone who likes book about family, loyalty, trust, and love.

What It’s Like Being Hapa in America: Part One

My daughter and I. My daughter is part Asian and I am half Asian.

For as long as I can remember, my mom described America similar to how most foreigners of her generation did: as a place where people can go to achieve their dreams. America is a place where people of many different races live together. In theory, this is great. But practically, this is far from the truth. Particularly if you are Hapa.

I was born to a white father and a Korean mother. The ambiguity of my “race” has always been something that I’ve had to embrace and try to accept from a young age. In fact, one of my first memories in America was my parents telling me that my mom was Asian and my dad was American. They said that made me Asian American. 

I was six or seven years old when they told me this. 

I just nodded obediently, hardly caring. At that point, the only differences I noticed between my parents was that my mom had dark hair and dark eyes and my dad had brown hair and green eyes. I didn’t understand why my parents were telling me what I should identify as. What did it matter? I was a girl, I was happy, and at that time, that was enough for me.

It should have been enough. But I was forced to face the issue of my race at my elementary school. I remember the kids at school looking at me asking me “where are you from?” I remember they didn’t ask the other kids. Only me

I’ll be honest. I didn’t know what they meant. What do you mean? Where am I from? I’m from America. I was born in Texas. But they kept asking me. I told them I was born in Texas but they didn’t seem satisfied. Because it wasn’t the answer that they were looking for.

Obviously, they were asking me for my ethnicity, my heritage, my parents’ nationality. They looked at me and automatically branded me as a certain race. They were the same age I was.  Already they were asking me where I was from. Already I was different. I wasn’t like them.

I wasn’t like them because I wasn’t able to fit into one box. Here in America, you have to “pick” what race you are on college and job applications. If your parents or even grandparents are of different races, then how can you choose just one race? Choosing one race or ethnicity is almost like denying part of who you are. Part of what makes you you.

It took me the better part of my teenage years as I struggled to figure out who I was. Of course, this is normal for a teenager. Teenagers are in a constant search to find themselves, To figure out who they are. For some that is easy. For others, it is harder. I didn’t just have to figure out who I am and who I want to be, but I had to figure out which race I was. Was I white? Was I Asian? I was American and that should have been good enough for everyone but in this country, it’s not enough. You are not just American, but also white American, or black American, or Asian American. You are something-American. We are defined by the color of our skin and the place(s) that are ancestors came from. And that’s not right.

Eventually, I learned about the word hapa. Hapa is a Hawaiian word which originally referred to someone who is half white and half Hawaiian. Now, however, it refers to anyone who is half-Asian. They could be half-Asian, half black or half-Asian, half-Hispanic, and they would be Hapa.

I soon discovered that there is an entire community of people who identify as Hapa. I finally found where I belong. I belong in this community. I am a Hapa. I am half-white, half-Asian. That is my race. My ethnicity. That is who I am.

I am so proud to be a Hapa.

Here are some books about the Hapa/multiracial experience.

Book Review: Love Without Borders

(Note: There are Amazon affiliate links in this postAs an Amazon Associate, I may earn commissions from qualifying purchases)

I recently read a book called Love Without Borders, by Angela Braniff. She is also the creator of the YouTube channel This Gathered Nest, where she vlogs about her big family, motherhood, and homeschooling. So, of course, when she announced that her first book — which is a memoir about her life — was out, I had to give it a shot.

I must make a confession. I actually didn’t “read” this book. I listened to it. I signed up for a free trial of Audible and was allowed two free audio books. One of those two e-books was, of course, Love Without Borders. I admit, I was a bit nervous about reading an audio book. I’ve never listened to an audio book before. I’ve always dismissed them, mainly because I’ve been fond of being read to or listening to people read me stories from the time I was young. I always preferred reading the books to myself.

But anyway, it was a bit of an awkward, novel, and even a foreign concept to have a book read to me. And not just read to, but read to me by the author. But it’s also pretty cool. When I started listening, I realized that I couldn’t stop listening to the book. It was just that good.

Braniff’s soothing tone of voice helps make it very easy to listen to. Her voice itself is a page turner, if you will. Perhaps I enjoyed listening to the audio book after watching her vlogs for so long. Perhaps I’m just used to seeing and hearing her on the vlogs that listening to the audio book feels more natural than if I were to read the book the traditional way.

But anyway, I probably finished the book in about a day, which is pretty good considering that I have to balance my kids needs too. It was also easier to “read” this book than a traditional one because I could listen to it anywhere, in the car, while doing the dishes or the laundry. That is definitely the beauty of an audio book that you can’t get from a print or an e-book.

The book is a memoir of Braniff’s life. She discusses her childhood, her marriage, and her kids. She doesn’t spend a lot of words discussing her childhood, which is rather fitting since the book isn’t really about her childhood. It’s about her kids, her love, and her willingness to do something unexpected and different.

Without giving away too much of the plot, this book was very well written (or well read). She tackles each subplot, or point in her life, with grace, careful consideration, and love. You can tell that she is passionate about her life, her family, and her spirituality. What’s more, throughout the reading of this book, I was constantly reminded of her bravery.

This is such a fantastic book and I highly recommend it to any woman in your life. Any woman who is not afraid to face the seemingly impossible and any woman who dares to try should read this book. This book is not just about motherhood and love, but a book of what happens when your faith in something turns into the best reality of your life.