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The Hope Chest by Viola Shipman

Posted on the 07 June 2017 by Bubblebathbooks
The Hope Chest by Viola Shipman

The discovery of one woman's heirloom hope chest unveils precious memories and helps three people who have each lost a part of themselves find joy once again. Ever since she was diagnosed with ALS, fiercely independent Mattie doesn't feel like herself. She can't navigate her beloved home, she can't go for a boat ride, and she can barely even feed herself. Her devoted husband, Don, doesn't want to imagine life without his wife of nearly fifty years, but Mattie isn't likely to make it past their anniversary.
But when Rose, Mattie's new caretaker, and her young daughter, Jeri, enter the couple's life, happiness and the possibility for new memories return. Together they form a family, and Mattie is finally able to pass on her memories from the hope chest she received from her mother. With each item-including a favorite doll, family dishes, an embroidered apron, and an antique Christmas ornament-the hope chest connects Mattie, Don and Rose to each other and helps them find hope again in the face of overwhelming life challenges. A beautiful story about the unconditional love and support of family, The Hope Chest will remind you that hope can be found where and when you least expect it.

" We get one chance on this earth. One short little stop to get things right, and too few of us do. We focus on everything that is unimportant." If I got one takeaway from this beautiful story, is it that quote. If you read other reviews about The Hope Chest, you will find that other readers wax eloquently about the emotional nature of the story and the timeless message of hope therein. I am not much of a crier (at least not like Bubby, who sheds buckets of tears over Pampers commercials.)

I have NEVER cried at a Pampers commercial, thank you very much. I just express emotions through my eyeballs, that's all. And if anyone else is crying, well, it's just rude to let people cry alone.

Are you kidding me? You cry when people even talk about crying.

Just because you have no feelings...

Not true. After about a quarter of the way into The Hope Chest, I got a big lump in my throat that never went away until the end. Sometimes it was a "I feel like crying because this is so sad" sort of lump and sometimes it was a "This is so happy I'm almost weeping" sort of lump.

So you're a big soggy lump now?

No. I got over it. You're the lone remaining soggy lump.

I must admit, I DID have some soggy lump moments myself during this story. I am very sentimental about things, especially objects that have a tangible link to my memories or to people near and dear to me. So when Rose and Mattie start pulling items out of Mattie's hope chest and telling the stories attached to the items, it really got to me.

Each chapter talks about a specific item from Mattie's hope chest and that's what pulls the book together - the memories each thing evokes and the new memories made by their rediscovery. It's quite compelling. I had a boyfriend who made me hope chest once, but neither he or the chest survived through the years.

No one ever made me a hope chest. So sad. But I guess my whole house is a type of hope chest, since I have Mom's china and Grandma's silver and other various bits and bobs from loved ones scattered all over. It's kinda nice. Now, we don't want to leave you with the impression that The Hope Chest is all doom and gloom and sadness and tears. It's definitely not. There's some humor, lots of love, a fair dose of drama and, even though Mattie does die, we still have what I'd call a happy ending.

The most touching aspect of the story was that strangers came together and bonded and became a family, filling all the empty spaces in each other's lives. It was so satisfying. I don't have any empty spaces in my family, because I have my Bubby. Regardless, The Hope Chest underlines those things that are important in life and reminds us that it is a lovely thing worth living.

Awww. That was beautiful! You fill up all my empty spaces too, Sissy. I was just so happy and contented at the end of The Hope Chest. I don't usually like stories where we have to watch a main character die but it helped that I knew from the beginning that Mattie's death was a foregone conclusion. She died as she lived, surrounded with loved ones and at peace. It's something to aspire to, don't you think? The Hope Chest will tug at your heart and fill your eyes with tears and you'll be so glad that you read it. I promise.

Click to buy The Hope Chest by Viola Shipman

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