Leota's Garden - Praise
Leota Reinhardt’s garden had always been a sanctuary. She’d named it Victory to keep her spirits up during her husbands tour of duty in World War II. Now an elderly woman, Leota has lost hope and her garden is overgrown with weeds. In the nick of time, Leota’s granddaughter, Annie, comes to visit, hoping to close the gap between her grandmother and her mother, and Corban Solsek, a young, university student studying the elderly, takes interest in Leota for his research project. Hope rebounds as these compelling characters struggle to make peace with the past and bring Leota’s garden back to life. Francine Rivers is a master gardener, deftly pruning brush and deadwood, using poignant humor and bittersweet revelation to open hearts to reconciliation.
God works in mysterious ways, and Leota Reinhardt's garden is a catalyst. After 18 years, her granddaughter Annie puts love for Jesus ahead of her mother's stifling demands and re-enters Leota's life. Corban Solsek, a college student needing research for a paper, volunteers to help Leota once a week. Annie's exuberance draws Leota and Corban into a project to restore the backyard garden and make it a "Victory" garden again. In the process of healing the garden, a family separated by misunderstandings and time begins to grow together once more. A couple of plot points dead end, but on the whole, this is an emotionally compelling story.
– Library Journal
Award-winning author Francine Rivers warmly shows how generational secrets can embitter and estrange families. Leota, neglected and alone, is 84. Her daughter shuns her until Annie, her granddaughter, breaks from her embittered mother's tradition of indifference and enters Leota's life to learn secrets never before revealed. Narrator Flo Schmidt captures the spirit of Leota's self-centered daughter and then flows smoothly into the warmth of Annie's character and the idealism of Corban, the college student who brings the story into focus. The pacing is appropriate, the characterization well done, and the ending, although bittersweet, filled with reconciliation and hope.