Category Archives: The Way It Should Be

Review: The Way It Should Be by Christina Suzann Nelson

Title: The Way It Should Be by Christina Suzann Nelson
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Genre: Contemporary, Christian, Women’s Fiction
Length: 351 pages
Book Rating: A

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


After years of estrangement, the lives of Zara Mahoney and her twin sister, Eve, are suddenly and completely intertwined again. Eve’s troubled lifestyle causes the state to take custody of her two children and contact Zara and her husband, asking them to consider foster care. Newlywed Zara thought she’d finally been given a fresh start and feels wholly unprepared to care for a niece and nephew whose existence she wasn’t even aware of.

Meanwhile, Eve may have a real chance to start over this time with the help of Tiff Bradley, who’s dedicated to helping women everyone else has given up on after facing a heartbreaking tragedy in her own family.

Over the course of one summer, all three women’s hearts and lives hang in the balance as Eve desperately works toward a new life. Can they redefine their expectations of how life should be to find the hope they–and those they love–so desperately need?


The Way It Should Be by Christina Suzann Nelson is an emotionally compelling Christian novel of healing and grace.

Zara and Chad Mahoney are newlyweds who have just settled into their new home. The farm and house need some TLC but Zara is absolutely delighted with her new life. She is eager to begin planting the herbs, flowers and plants that she uses to make soaps, lotions and loofahs. However, they have barely finished unpacking when she receives a letter from  DHS. Zara’s estranged twin sister, Eve, is in the hospital and social services needs a temporary home for her young children, five-year-old Charlotte and eighteen-month-old Sammy. Zara is uncertain about taking in the kids but Chad has no qualms about bringing them into their home. After agonizing over the decision, Zara agrees and with the help of her mother-in-law, Sharon, and their church, Charlotte and Sammy are now in their care.

Eve is addicted to heroin and living with a man whose beating puts her in the hospital. Devastated over losing her children, she is determined to kick her habit and make the necessary changes to get her kids back. With the help of her unlikely friend, Tiff Bradley, Eve has the support she needs but giving up heroin is so much harder than she believed it would be. Luckily, Tiff is not giving up on her and she gets her into detox and finds her a place to begin her recovery. Eve is well on her way to turning her life around but will her ex-boyfriend, Joey, let her go?

Tiff is an unlikely savior since she and her husband Bruce are wealthy.  But the couple learned the hard way that addiction does not care what about your socio-economic status. They lost their daughter Lindsay to drugs and Tiff works through her grief by helping women on the outer edges of society. Unfortunately, her desire to assist these women is a source of contention between her and Bruce.

With a gentle undercurrent of faith, The Way It Should Be is a moving novel with a realistic storyline. Zara’s struggles with guilt ring true as does her wariness at opening her heart to temporary custody. Chad is a charming and outgoing with a huge heart. Charlotte’s reactions to her new situation are heartbreaking but understandable. Eve’s struggles with addiction and extremely low self-worth are heartrending. Tiff’s grief and self-recriminations over not doing more for her daughter are natural and her desire to help others comes from her heart and her strong faith. With a surprising plot twist, Christina Suzann Nelson brings this poignant yet redemptive novel to an uplifting conclusion. I absolutely loved and highly recommend this emotional and well-researched novel.

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Filed under Bethany House Publishers, Christian, Christina Suzann Nelson, Contemporary, Rated A, Review, The Way It Should Be, Women's Fiction