I had never heard of Hank Stewart or Kendra Norman-Bellamy, but their book, Three Fifty-Seven: Timing Is Everything was free for Audible subscribers.I really liked the premise, so I decided to give it a try.
Ms. Essie is an elderly lady who lives alone. Her husband died very young, but she never wanted to remarry. The family for whom she acted as caregiver in their last days left her their home and enough income to be comfortable.
As Ms. Essie sits on her porch and knits, she can’t help but be aware of some of her neighbors’ problems. The single mother yells a lot, and her teenage son shows disrespect and stays out past curfew. A regular jogger from down the street seems to be running from something rather than just running for her health. Angel, her best friend’s granddaughter, is married and expecting her first child. All is well with Angel and her husband until an accident seems to have harmed the baby.
Ms. Essie decides to be as helpful and available as possible. When her neighbors are outside, she invites them in for lemonade and peach cobbler. She offers a listening ear, prayer, and a bit of advice. As their problems intensify, so do her prayers.
As the subtitle indicates, time is a factor in the book. Each chapter starts with the time of day.
We all need a Ms. Essie in our lives. Though I didn’t like the ending, I loved the story and the truth that God can work through us if we’re available to Him.
My only minor complaint about Essie is that the authors may have made her a little too special in the sense of knowing just what to say or how to get people to share their troubles. One character says Essie “had a direct line to heaven, and God told her things He told no one else.” I wish that had been dialed back a bit and she were more ordinary–that would be more encouragement to those who don’t reach out because they don’t know what to do or say.
Unfortunately, for me a major flaw was bedroom scenes or descriptions that went too far. I don’t want or need to know the details. For that reason, I probably wouldn’t look into a book by these authors again. And that’s really a shame, because otherwise this was a great book.