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Mary’s Blessing by Lena Nelson Dooley
(McKenna’s Daughters, Book 2)

Realms, 15 May 2012


When her mother dies, Mary Lenora must grow up quickly to take care of her brothers and sisters. Can love help her to shoulder the burden?
Mary Lenora Caine knows she is adopted. As she was growing up, her mother called her “God’s blessing.” But now that she’s gone, Mary no longer feels like any kind of blessing. Her father, in his grief, has cut himself off from the family, leaving the running of the home entirely in Mary’s hands.
As she nears her eighteenth birthday, Mary can’t see anything in her future but drudgery. Then her childhood friend Daniel begins to court her, promising her a life of riches and ease. But her fairy-tale dreams turn to dust when her family becomes too much for Daniel, and he abandons her in her time of deepest need.
Will Daniel come to grips with God’s plan for him? And if he does return, can Mary trust that this time he will really follow through? 


Mary’s Blessing is the second book in the McKenna’s Daughters series.  Mary’s tough farm life is in stark contrast to that of her sister, Maggie, whom we saw in the first book, Maggie’s Journey (see my review).  I loved reading about a different setting in the same era, and found it held more drama than the society living of Maggie’s Journey.  Lena vividly creates the hardships and chores demanded of every day farm life, and I loved learning about this lifestyle as I enjoyed the story.
This book captivated me from the moment I started reading it.  Mary and Daniel are just too cute, and Daniel’s doting crush on Mary brought a smile to my face.  I loved Mary.  Despite being young and innocent, she is no doe-eyed love struck girl.  She accepts the hardships of reality and attempts to make the best of what she is dealt.
Things between Mary and Daniel don’t remain sweet. I baulked when Daniel displayed the typical male arrogance that women find so detestable.  It was hard to see the ugly side of a character that had endeared himself to me. Daniel is forced to search himself and God’s word to understand how he must help and serve Mary.
Despite Mary being adopted out – just as her sister Maggie was – the challenges Mary faces are unique.  What results is a wonderfully different story.  Glimpses of characters tying Mary’s story to her sister’s were a delight for me.
Mary’s Blessing shows us a great example of a Christian community in action – modelling how we should be caring for each other, regardless of class or station in life.  It made me want to move into their town and be part of their lives!
I enjoyed Mary’s Blessing even more than Maggie’s Journey.  The romance in this book was stronger, and the struggles and tragedy of Mary’s father tugged at my heart strings.  I think you could get away with reading Mary’s Blessing without having read the first book, but you’ll miss out on the full effect of the series.
I can’t wait for the third instalment to tie all the McKenna’s Daughter’s story together!


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