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Returning, The [Paperback]

By Ann Tatlock (Author)
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Item description for Returning, The by Ann Tatlock...

After a five-year stint in prison, John Sheldon returns home a different man, committed to the life of Christ, but while his son Billy is delighted, his wife Andrea is wary of his conversion, his daughter Rebekah is skeptical, and his six-year-old daughter Phoebe does not remember her father. Original.

Publishers Description
Andrea knew when she married John Sheldon that her love was not returned, but they both stayed in the marriage for their own reasons. Now John is returning home from a five-year stint in prison, and while Andrea wants him home, she knows his return will upset the life she and the children have adjusted to in his absence. But she hopes his homecoming will offer them a second chance at marriage.John is apprehensive about how he will be received, but he is returning a different man. While incarcerated, he committed his life to Christ and wants to hold fast to his newfound faith. Andrea is wary of his conversion, son Billy is delighted, and daughter Rebekah is skeptical. Six-year-old Phoebe doesn't remember her father and is withdrawn. Can John and Andrea mend the rifts that have torn their family apart?

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Bethany House
Pages   368
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.36" Width: 5.51" Height: 0.97"
Weight:   0.77 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Feb 1, 2009
Publisher   Bethany House
Edition  Reprinted  
ISBN  0764200062  
ISBN13  9780764200069  

Availability  0 units.

More About Ann Tatlock

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Ann Tatlock is the author of the Christy Award-winning novel All the Way Home. She has also won the Midwest Independent Publishers Association "Book of the Year" in fiction for both All the Way Home and I'll Watch the Moon. Ann lives with her husband, Bob, and their daughter, Laura Jane, in Asheville, North Carolina. Learn more at

Ann Tatlock currently resides in Minneapolis, in the state of Minnesota.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Fiction & Poetry > Fiction
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Fiction > General
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Fiction & Poetry > Fiction > General

Christian Product Categories
Books > Fiction > General Christian > General
Books > Fiction > General Christian > Contemporary

Reviews - What do customers think about Returning, The?

A Wonderful Story of God's Relentless Pursuit  Apr 19, 2010
`The Returning,' by author Ann Tatlock ([...]), deals with a difficult subject - the return of a husband to his wife and three children after five years in prison for vehicular manslaughter.

Here's the book trailer to this very compelling novel:


The book opens with John Sheldon being dropped off at home by his brother-in-law Owen; John would not be allowed to regain his driver's license for another year. His family is living in a small cottage on Conesus Lake in upstate New York. He is greeted by his loving wife, Andrea, and their six year old daughter, Phoebe, who has no recollection of his man, who scares her initially. Andrea has successfully held her family together during his incarceration - albeit not without problems.

The middle child in the family is sixteen year Rebekah. She had been the apple of her daddy's eye as a little girl. She rebelled and was very resentful of John after his drunken driving accident.

The oldest child of John and Andrea is Billy, soon to turn eighteen. Billy was born with Down Syndrome. Billy was the rock in Andrea's life; his eternal optimism and bright smile were everything to her, and sustained her over the years.

The author states that she based that character on actor Chris Burke ([...]Chris_Burke_(actor), who starred in the ABC TV series, `Life Goes On,' from 1989 to 1993. Chris and his mother, Marian, graciously read the manuscript and offered feedback. Chris praises the book:
"I was delighted to become acquainted with Billy in The Returning. He is a thoughtful, ambitious, and warm young man. Tatlock has successfully described the essence of a person with Down Syndrome. Great story!"

I couldn't agree more, Chris!

While in prison, John came to know Jesus as his personal savior. Here is how John explains the process:

Only after thirty-three months and probably a hundred talks with Pastor Pete did John realize there was something about the human heart that could make a man do even things he didn't want to do. Only after all those months of being locked up did he come to understand that there was something to the idea of good and evil, and if you didn't choose the one, you'd be chosen by the other.
That was when he surrendered, seeing himself for what he was and knowing he'd go on spiraling downward if goodness didn't intervene. God broke in then - safety net, savior, life itself. (p. 116)

As he returns home, the only other believer in the household is Billy. He took it upon himself to start attending church a couple years before - and He knows Jesus well! None of the other members of the family attend with him. Rebekah is openly hostile to his jail house conversion; she doesn't expect it to last. And she is being influenced spiritually by her wiccan friend Lena. Andrea is apathetic - as she seems to be about many things.

John has vowed, after the tragic death of the hitchhiker he had picked up, and then killed due to his negligence, never to touch alcohol again. He pledges to rebuild the relationships in his family which were so damaged by his actions. He's offered a job as a bus boy at Owen's restaurant - the same position held by Billy. It is truly a humbling experience for John, who struggles to provide for his family with that low wage.

Despite John's vow to restore his family, he made some poor choices, allowing his sinful nature to guide his steps. He succumbed to some of his weaknesses, potentially destroying that precious family structure.

John had a counseling session with the pastor at Billy's church, Pastor Larry. Larry asks John if he is familiar with a poem called 'The Hound of Heaven' ([...]) by Francis Thompson, who lived from 1859 to 1907. Larry explains:

"It's the story of Thompson's own life, how he tried to outrun God. He spent years running and during much of that time he was a homeless tramp, addicted to opium, which was the popular drug back in his day....
I believe God stayed with him, inspired him, used him even. (pp. 267-268)

I had heard of the poem before, but had never read it in its entirety; I decided to seek it out online. I spent many years running from God; He was relentless in His pursuit (thank you, God!). If you would like to read it, you can do so here ([...]).

The end of the book is highly climactic. I will not spoil it for you, but tragedy is averted and all - that's right, all - of the members of the family coalesce and realize the blessings that are theirs. I was highly satisfied and happy to read that conclusion!

This is my first encounter with the writing of Ms. Tatlock; she has written six other novels prior to this one, including the Christy Award winner in Contemporary Fiction, `All the Way Home.' I thought she handled the tough issues - alcoholism, teen drinking, and adultery - with gracious authority. Most Christian-oriented novels would not necessarily attempt to tackle such volatile issues. But Ann doesn't flinch in doing so, and she deals with these issues with sentiment and compassion. I greatly enjoyed this book, and recommend it highly.

This book was generously provided by the author.

Reviewed by Andrea Schultz - Ponderings by Andrea - [...]
Great story  Dec 8, 2009
This is the story of a father's alcoholism shattering a family that struggles to put the pieces back together when he returns from five years in prison. When Andrea married John Sheldon she knew she loved him more than he loved her. In his five-year absence Andrea and their three children have adapted to a life without him around. His impending return from prison becomes as strong as another character is the story. Andrea is hopeful that John's return will bring a second chance for a happy marriage. While in prison, John commits his life to Christ and struggles to keep his faith. Andrea is skeptical of John's conversion. Will their future hold a happier marriage than they've known? Once again, Tatlock has developed characters that will stay with you long after you finish this compelling book. A good read.
Never Disappointed  Aug 22, 2009
Want a read that will never disappoint? I don't worry with Tatlock's work; it's always worth the wait.

In this Returning, he took a chance that doors might open or shut... forever.
His wife was waiting for him to do something. Begin again? or for the first time?
One daughter pushes him away but longs for him to come closer. She never dreamed the loser would be a savior.
A boy-man showed him he could do something and not a minute too soon;
the smallest girl just knew she needed him to love her.

Ann Tatlock has returned with another thought-provoking story whose action lends itself to film. Rare writer--one of the best of our time.
Enjoyed  May 10, 2009
I enjoyed this story about a man returning to his family after five years in prison. The family was affected by the return in different ways and the their feelings and actions were well described. The wife was meek and timid. As more history was revealed of the marriage, I could understand how she had become this way. And the daughter's anger seemed a little over the top in the beginning. But she grew up witnessing her father's drinking and the affects on her mother. After the accident, her life changed because of her father, so I could understand her feelings. For a Christian fiction book, it was not at all preaching to you.
THE RETURNING - Ann Tatlock does it again!  Apr 30, 2009
WOW. I absolutely loved THINGS WE ONCE HELD DEAR and EVERY SECRET THING, and now I can add THE RETURNING TO THE LIST. I think Tatlock has written 7 or 8 books, she won the Christy too. Crazy good work with I'LL WATCH THE MOON. And she's still got it! This is a must read. Realistic, smart, and full of hope - just like life.

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