Review: To Know You by Shannon Ethridge & Kathryn Mackel

Title: To Know You by Shannon Ethridge & Kathryn Mackel
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Contemporary, Christian, Fiction
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Julia Whittaker’s rocky past yielded two daughters, both given up for adoption as infants. Now she must find them to try to save her son.

Julia and Matt Whittaker’s son has beaten the odds for thirteen years only to have the odds and his liver crash precipitously. The only hope for his survival is a living liver transplant, but the transplant list is long and Dillon’s time is short. His two older half-sisters, born eighteen months apart to two different fathers, offer his only hope for survival.

But can Julia ask a young woman someone she surrendered to strangers long ago and has never spoken with to make such a sacrifice to save a brother she’s never known? Can she muster the courage to journey back into a shame-filled season of her life, face her choices and their consequences, and find any hope of healing?

And what if she discovers in her own daughters lives that a history of foolish choices threatens to repeat itself? Julia knows she’s probably embarking on a fool’s errand searching for the daughters she abandoned only now that she needs something from them. But love compels Julia to take this journey. Can grace and forgiveness compel her daughters to join her?

In To Know You, Shannon Ethridge and Kathryn Mackel explore how the past creates the present . . . and how even the most shattered lives can be redeemed.

The Review:

In To Know You by Shannon Ethridge & Kathryn Mackel, Julia Whittaker is forced to revisit her painful past in order to save her thirteen year old son Dillon’s life.

In an effort to give her daughters a better life, Julia gave both of her babies up for adoption. The adoptions were closed and she has had no contact with her daughters or their adoptive families. When their last hope for a donor for Dillon falls through, Julia reluctantly seeks out her now adult daughters to see if they are a match for the life-saving transplant Dillon so desperately needs. Her oldest daughter, Destiny, is brash, outspoken and at first, she flatly rejects Julia request. But her curiosity about her half-sister Chloe leads Destiny to make an outrageous proposal. If Julia will introduce her to Chloe, Destiny will consider getting tested to see if she is a match for Dillon’s transplant. What follows is an unforgettable journey of hope, faith and healing for Julia, Destiny and Chloe.

To Know You is full of surprises and interesting twists and turns and that includes Julia’s past. The circumstances surrounding both of her pregnancies are very different and not at all what I was expecting. The relationships are revealed through flashbacks when Chloe and Destiny decide they want to meet their fathers. The two men are very different and their reactions to meeting their daughters reflect not only the unique circumstances of their previous relationships with Julia but their current lives as well.

Chloe and Destiny could not be more different. Destiny is strong-willed and as a teenager, she was rebellious and headstrong. As an adult, she has forged her own path, successfully creating a lucrative career as a make-up artist. With the help of her longtime boyfriend, Luke, Destiny’s wild partying days are a thing of the past but their relationship is currently on shaky ground.

Chloe is the complete opposite of Destiny. She is married to her childhood sweetheart Jack and her life is well-ordered and predictable. Jack has their future mapped out and they both adhere to his strict schedule for their education and their professional life. Chloe is growing frustrated with both her marriage and career choice, but she is unable to voice her dissatisfaction to Jack. Julia and Destiny provide her the perfect excuse to escape her confining marriage for a brief period of time.

Dillon’s health is quite precarious and there is are tremendous sense of urgency throughout the entire novel. Julia’s interactions with Destiny and Chloe are fraught with tension and she is always careful not to pressure them into a quick decision. Her worry for Dillon is tempered by her growing concerns for her daughters and the situations they are facing. She often turns to her husband, Matt, not only for support but for spiritual guidance as well. Their strong faith sustains them when their fears threaten to overwhelm them.

While there is a strong element of faith in To Know You, it is never preachy. Instead, Shannon Ethridge & Kathryn Mackel gently demonstrate that God is there to help shoulder our burdens and that while His forgiveness is absolute, forgiving ourselves is often the most difficult obstacle to overcome.

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