ndiceDiscovering Peace by Jennifer Ann Holt takes a look at both sides of life after the adoption decision has already been made, the new parents have taken their precious baby home, and the birth mother is dealing with the emotions that go along with the choice she made.

Alison misses her baby even though she feels strongly that she made the right decision in giving her daughter two parents and the opportunity to be sealed in a forever family. She cries each time a letter and photographs arrive from little Hope’s new parents, but her conviction that she did the right thing for her baby doesn’t waver. Her mother is still upset that her first grandchild is gone and Alison struggles with comments she feels are judgmental that come from friends and ward members. She decides to go away to college and talks to her bishop about the possibility of going to BYU. Since she has worked through the repentance process he recommends her. She forms close friendships with two of her roommates and begins dating. Dating brings more heartache than she’s ready to deal with. She begins a friendship with Hope’s mom and dad and is happy when they go to the temple, but wonders if she’ll ever be part of a family like theirs.

Olivia is thrilled to finally have a baby. She and Michael love little Hope with all their hearts and welcome Alison into a corner of their lives. She becomes a sort of aunt to the child, but there is no mistaking they are her parents. Though they couldn’t love a child of their own bodies more than Hope, Olivia still struggles with never being able to experience pregnancy and giving birth. Eventually they begin the process to adopt a sibling for Hope and discover it is as frustrating as their first efforts to have a child.

Holt has done a superb job of portraying the mixed emotions, both the joy and the pain, that go with infertility, relinquishing a baby, and going on with life following adoption. She is equally sympathetic to the birth mother and the adopting couple. She includes the spiritual steps taken as well as the emotional and physical journey both Alison and Olivia experience.

Discovering Peace presents an interesting story and great characters over approximately five years in time. Both of the principle characters achieve considerable growth and maturity through a difficult experience. Several strong spiritual points are made as the story explores an understanding of the atonement, makes a distinction between “giving up” a child and “giving a child a chance for a better life”, and takes a look at the impact an “out-of-wedlock” pregnancy has on the lives of those close to the birth mother and adoptive parents.

Characterization and plot are both handled well and dialog is comfortable. However, the use of two unusual and almost identical names for two secondary characters was distracting and confusing; Shanelle and Shaylan.

Jennifer Ann Holt grew up in Enterprise, Utah, and went on to graduate from Brigham Young University. She and her husband and four children currently live in Boise, Idaho. Much of her knowledge concerning adoption comes through her own experience with infertility and adoption.

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DISCOVERING PEACE by Jennifer Ann Holt, published by Bonneville Books, an imprint of Cedar Fort, 240 pages, soft cover, also available for e-readers.