"White Lilies in Autumn" is a powerful and emotional story of faith, love, and endurance that will haunt your memory and your dreams. I finished this book in two sittings but easily could have finished it in one. The story draws you in from the opening page and you find yourself so invested in the lives of Dustin and his wife, Hiva, that it's hard to put it down. Dustin and Hiva (his wife and college sweetheart) marry young and lose their first child, a daughter, Alli, after she is born too premature to survive outside the womb. Dustin and Hiva are able to lean on their faith in God to provide the strength to survive their heartache. The strength they draw from their faith allows them to explain their loss to their friends, family and fellow church members, allows them to accept God's will for their child, helps them to heal, and ultimately helps them find the will to move forward and try, once again, to start their family.
Unfortunately, the loss of Alli was only the beginning of the heartache for these young newlyweds. They faced obstacle after obstacle but survived them all because of their strong love for each other and their faith in God. They are amazing people who are a good example of devoted faith. As the story unfolded, my heart continually broke for them. After my first night reading it I found myself wondering, "How many tears can I shed in one night?" The next night I wept even harder. My tears for them made me wonder, "If I hurt this badly FOR them, how badly must they have been hurting while they endured this?" My heart broke for them.
This book reminded of another book I read earlier this year called "Open Adoption, Open Heart" by Russell Elkins. While Mr. Elkins book was about their journey to open adoption to start their family and Mr. Bradshaw's book is about their struggle to start their family and is left with questions about their future the things that both authors have in common is a strong marriage, strong love for family, strong desire to be a father, and a devoted and faithful love for God.
So, why four stars? I actually had to take two days between the time I finished this book and the time I wrote this review in order to really process my emotions, this story, and how I was going to rate it. The story itself deserves five stars, there is no doubt about it, but I found the choppy writing style and interwoven past and present timeline distracting. Ultimately I decided the story itself is so powerful and tragic and I forgave the choppiness of the timeline.
"White Lilies in Autumn" is an unforgettable story of endurance, perseverance, heartache and love. To quote scripture, "The greatest of these is love." It is Dustin and Hiva's love for each other, for family, for friends and for God that made this book so wonderful.