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DELIVERANCE by Vicki Hunt Budge

Deliverance, Lydia’s Story is the third volume in Vicki Hunt Budge’s Hope and Healing series though it works very well as a standalone novel. Lydia’s only child died due to a medical mishap and she has harbored ill feelings for many years toward the nurse responsible for the error. She is ready to put the past and her animosity behind her when her dying sister in Boston makes legal arrangements for Lydia and her husband to become Gracie, her grandchild’s legal guardians. The child’s mother, Nicole, is a drug addict who has served time in prison for drug related theft. The grandmother fears if her daughter takes the little girl she’ll be neglected, abused, and turn to drugs like her mother. To thwart the mother’s determination to take her child, the grandmother insists Lydia and Jim leave Boston at once, taking Gracie with them to Oregon, before she actually dies. Both Lydia and Jim love being parents to a little girl again, but they can’t help worrying that the child’s mother will follow them and attempt to kidnap her child. Their fears prove valid.

Nicole and a friend, Roxy, whom she met while in prison, have plans to travel to Oregon from
Boston by bus, buy a used car, snatch Gracie and flee to Canada. Nicole believes she can support herself and her daughter if she can make it to Canada, stay off drugs, and hire herself out as a housekeeper. She devises several strategies to grab Gracie, but Lydia is a match for her schemes and enlists her friends support to keep the child safe. Nicole is abandoned by Roxy, who is only interested in what she can get from Nicole. Devastated by Roxy’s betrayal Nicole finds other friends, better friends, who support her efforts to stay off drugs and create a new life.

Lydia is a headstrong, judgmental woman who thinks she has all the answers. She frequently ignores her husband’s advice. She loves Gracie and the child has a softening influence on her. She also has a circle of good friends who aid her in evading Nichole’s schemes. Her concern for her grandniece and her faith in God are her strongest redeeming characteristics. Her husband, Jim, is a psychologist and extremely patient. He fills a loving father’s role in Gracie’s life. Gracie is a bright, active five-year-old with a love of music.

Nicole is a lot like Lydia in many ways. She’s headstrong, stubborn, and me-oriented. She first became involved with drugs as a rebellious teenager. She quickly finds quitting is harder than expected and her friends from the drug culture aren’t dependable. Making new friends and setting new goals requires overcoming fears and getting help from a higher power. It also involves assistance from those with experience in leaving that world of drugs.

A few short comings struck me as I read this novel. Nicole’s chance meetings with people who have overcome drug dependence and who can help her seem a little too coincidental. Jim and Lydia’s marriage is not the most exemplary marriage relationship. Harry, Nicole’s friend who seems destined to be more than a friend, is a little too good to be true. These are all minor questionable points in an excellent story of hope and healing. The story’s strong points include show casing characters who aren’t all good or all bad. It also takes a good look at the frequent link between drugs and crime, the dangers of pre-judging others, and the value of true friendship and family loyalty.

Vicki Hunt Budge grew up in Idaho, lived for many years in Oregon, and now makes her home in Utah. She attended both Idaho State University and the University of Utah. She and her husband are the parents of four children. They also served as missionaries in the LDS Addiction Recovery Program. She has published two previous novels and many stories and articles in LDS Church magazines.

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DELIVERANCE, LYDIA’S STORY, Book Three of the Hope and Healing Series by Vicki Hunt Budge, Published by Eastwood Press, 284 pages, soft cover $11.99. Also available for eReaders.

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DELIVERANCE by Vicki Hunt Budge, Published by Eastwood Press, 278 pages, soft cover $11.99. Also available for eReaders.