Bonnie S. Hirst has written a compelling non fiction book that I was privileged to be asked to read for review purposes . Her book – Test of Faith : Surviving My Daughter’s Life Sentence – is a book written from a place of love and faith.
What would you do if you found out that your daughter was accused of a horrific crime? What would you do if your daughter was actually sentenced to jail time as a result of a trial for said crime? Bonnie S. Hirst found herself in exactly that situation. Her latest book is a well written account of how her faith was tested and how she came to grips with the reality that she was forced to face head on.
Hirst is a woman of faith who has always believed that everything in life works out for the best. So, when her daughter, Lacey, was accused of a terrible crime, Hirst was convinced that God would protect her family from harm. But when Lacey was sentenced to life in prison without parole, Hirst questioned every aspect of her existence – her beliefs, her role as a mother, and the purpose behind the events that tore her family apart.
Press Release material from JKS Communications
In “Test of Faith,” Hirst shares the story of her family as they navigated the labyrinth of the legal system. She struggled with the façade of being okay on the outside and screaming for air on the
inside. And it also shares her spiritual journey, discovering the rewards that come from asking for help and the blessings that exist even in the most heart-wrenching circumstances. You justneed to keep your heart open enough to receive them.
Bonnie is a very interesting and gracious woman and offered to answer a few of my own questions for my readers. I hope you enjoy our interview.
1 .Test of Faith is a story that is a very difficult story to read at times because it is so raw with emotion. What was your writing process like when you wrote it? Was it difficult? Cathartic?
My writing began as journaling my heart onto the page after Lacey was arrested. I’d plead with God to make everything work out okay. I’d ask for protection for my family. I’d lift my family up to God for his saving grace in our lives. I’d write down my prayers. After she was convicted, my journaling became less frequent. I felt forgotten by God. Two years after she went to prison, I realized that my journaling was pulling me to write about our traumatic situation. When I started documenting the actual time from her arrest to her going to prison, I would sit in a quiet room and purge my memories onto the page longhand. The most difficult chapters to write, were when we told her children that she wasn’t coming home. And the first jail visit where the grandkids couldn’t touch their mother thru the visiting glass cubicle. Those memories tore me apart. Each time I faced the page, it depleted me, but it also seemed to be what I needed. I’ve heard the adage to not write with the intention of healing, but by recording those memories, I realized that we had survived the trauma to the best of our abilities. The message of my book is not, look at what happened to us…it’s more a more a reflection of my willingness to look at how God answered my prayers differently than what I expected and trying to find positives that came from our pain.
2. As a mother I know that I would do almost anything for my sons. We never know until we are faced with a challenge how we will respond. If you could go back in time would you change anything in your story with Lacey?
I would hope what I’d change is that I’d be a more attentive, more empathetic mother. I was busy with my accounting business and operating our drive in restaurant. My focus should have been more on not just looking like a family that had it all, but actually being present at all times in a caring empathetic way.
3. If you could have dinner with anyone living or dead who would you choose to break bread with? Why?
Best selling memoirist Dani Shapiro. Dani was the author in residence at my first writing retreat. Her calm way of teaching and connecting with each student was heart affirming. To me she is the epitome of what an author should be. She has overcome several challenges in her life and is open about sharing her experiences with her audience. I’d love to visit soul to soul with her and I would treasure any insights she wished to share.
4. What was the process of publishing your story like for you? Did everything fall into place easily or did you have some bumps along the way?
My publication journey has been serendipitous. I realize that is a strange word for writing a difficult story. It seemed that each leg of my writing journey led me and prepared me for the next class or teacher. Like the proverb…When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. It almost felt like I didn’t author this story, it authored me. I felt God guiding me toward teachers, editors, publishers, and publicists, etc. I feel extremely blessed.
5. You previously wrote a romance story. Obviously, this story is far different from that. Tell my readers any thoughts you might have about either or both writing styles.
When I was writing my romance novels, I had no instruction. At that time, I read a ton of novels and thought, I could write that. Novel writing was fun! I could choose how the story ended.
In my memoir I tried to recall and stay true to the details and the story. It was a challenging period looking back through newspaper articles. Seeing my daughters mug shot. It jolted me each time. Doing the research as I was writing was as important as recalling how I had felt at the time. As a memoir writer, I also strive to stay true to my values. Whether it involves social media, publicity, interacting with other writers, or daily one on one conversations, I hope to raise the spirits of those who are struggling.
6 . Obviously your faith in God is important. Do you have a favorite scripture that comes to mind that my readers might like to read?
The original title for my memoir was – I Can’t Quote Scripture. I’ve always admired people who can memorize a scripture and insert it into a conversation, but I’m not able to do that. The scripture that I connect with is one my daughter Lacey shared with me after her conviction.
2 Timothy 4:7. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
Many thanks to Bonnie for a chance to read and review her book and to her publishing company JKS Communication for allowing me to have a complimentary copy for review. You can read my honest review on Goodreads by clicking here.
Please connect with and follow Bonnie and her journey by clicking on her website link. Her book is available for pre-order there with a release date of September 24, 2019.