Jaycee’s dad died before she ever knew him, so Jaycee and her mama had always been poor as her mother tried to work to make enough money to keep them afloat. Growing up in a heroin infested town in southern Indiana was never easy for Jaycee Givens, but what made it feel impossible was when her mother became addicted to pain medication after an injury and then went on to heroin. Life became unpredictable and Jaycee felt like she lost the mama she knew when she was little.
Before her mama got hooked on drugs, Jaycee didn’t seem to know she was poor. She enjoyed school and was bright enough that other students always made a place for her at the lunchroom table. But one day when her mama brought Jaycee’s lunch to school only partially dressed and high on drugs, all that changed. Her life became one of survival when her life at home was exposed and unraveling.
Jaycee never knew who she would find laying around their trailer when she came home from school after her mama started selling drugs to pay for her own. She would pick her way through discarded syringes and listen before she opened the door to see who might be in the trailer with her mama.
When her little brother, Jayden, was born, she became his primary caregiver and protector. She loved him the best she could, gaining help from Sudie who lived several trailers down and had a skill of tending wounded animals that helped her understand the wounds of Jaycee, her brother, and mama. The problem was that Jaycee wasn’t really old enough to handle everything about parenting Jayden, nor could she watch him every minute to assure he was not harmed by the junkies that hung out at their trailer.
One of the puzzles for Jaycee was sorting out how God could allow all this to happen. She had gone to church and Sunday School with her mama before the drugs started. She had even been baptized, but where was God now?
Amy K. Sorrells takes her reader on a powerful journey in Before I Saw You. That journey points clearly to God-ordained moments and His pursuing love. One of those comes when Jaycee’s pastor preaches a sermon that leaves her puzzling when he says,
“Sometimes God shows his faithfulness not by what he brings to our life, but by what he takes out of it; not by what he gives us, but by the joy we receive from what we let go of and give to him.”
These words become increasingly important as Jaycee must grapple with tough choices about what she may need to give up.
When you read this story, you will discover how personal that preached word by a pastor becomes for Jaycee. You will also become attached to each character in the story as you see Jaycee come to grips with what she needs to give up. Your eyes may also fill with tears as you see the Lord leading her to trust Him through very dark and difficult choices.
This book speaks gently and powerfully of God’s heart for some who are “the least of these.” It also highlights how the Lord grants us grace to trust Him when we see no way forward.
To comply with new regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my review.