Book Review: Doesn’t She Look Natural

11 Feb

Former Washington adviser Jennifer Graham is willing to take on anything that would remove her unemployed-single-mom stigma—but when she inherits a Florida funeral home, her self-assurance is rattled. As she heads south with her mother and two sons, she wonders if dealing with death could bring new life into her career—and soul.

Christy-Award winner Angela Hunt writes for readers who have learned to expect the unexpected in novels from this versatile author. With nearly four million copies of her books sold worldwide, she is the best-selling author of more than 100 works ranging from picture books (The Tale of Three Trees) to nonfiction books, to novels.

Now that her two children have reached their twenties, Angie and her husband live in Florida with Very Big Dogs (a direct result of watching Turner and Hooch and Sandlot too many times). This affinity for mastiffs has not been without its rewards–one of their dogs was featured on Live with Regis and Kelly as the second-largest canine in America. Their dog received this dubious honor after an all-expenses-paid trip to Manhattan for the dog and the Hunts, complete with VIP air travel and a stretch limo in which they toured New York City.

Afterward, the dog gave out pawtographs at the airport.

Angela admits to being fascinated by animals, medicine, psychology, unexplained phenomena, and “just about everything” except sports. Books, she says, have always shaped her life— in the fifth grade she learned how to flirt from reading Gone with the Wind.

Her books have won the coveted Christy Award, several Angel Awards from Excellence in Media, and the Gold and Silver Medallions from Foreword Magazine’s Book of the Year Award. In 2007, her novel The Note was featured as a Christmas movie on the Hallmark channel. Romantic Times Book Club presented her with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.

Also in 2006, Angela completed her Master of Biblical Studies in Theology degree. She completed her doctorate in 2008 and was accepted into a Th.D. program in 2009. When she’s not home reading or writing, Angie often travels to teach writing workshops at schools and writers’ conferences. And to talk about her dogs, of course.

My Impressions:

Doesn’t She Look Natural ? came off my TBR shelf this month.  I have wanted to read this book for a while now, for several reasons:  1)  Angela Hunt is one of my favorite writers and 2) it is set in Mt. Dora, Florida, a small town not far from where I was raised.  It was great!

Jennifer Graham inherits a funeral home business from a great-uncle she has never met or even heard of.  Out of work and a marriage, she ventures down to Florida with her two sons and mother to investigate her inheritance and unload the home and business as quickly as possible so she can get on with her life.

For such a simple story, there is a lot going on.  Hunt deals with loss, grief, forgiveness, prayer, and teenage boys — quite a book-full!   She also tackles the often creep-inspiring funeral business.  One of my close friends inherited a funeral business from her father.  If you didn’t know, you would never think that is what she does.  Kim fits none of the stereotypes.  I had lunch with her today and told her I had a new appreciation for what she does after reading Hunt’s novel.  Towards the end of the book, Jennifer muses to herself:

How do we show Jesus we love him?  By doing things people cannot do for themselves.  By restoring the appearance of one who has died so his children can say good-bye without suffering trauma.

I was bowled over by the care and compassion expressed in Doesn’t She Look Natural? This is the 1st book in the Fairlawn series.  The other 2 are She Always Wore Red and She’s in A Better Place.  I need to make more room on my shelf!



One more thing:

Dear friends of mine lost their 23 day old grandson Wednesday.   Their family was ministered to by Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. Please check out this organization.


From the website:


regnancy and birth are miraculous journeys. This amazing time of life is full of mystery, anticipation, joy, hope, and wonder. Feeling the powerful energy of birth and new life, watching as a new family is born unto each other. These things humble and amaze. These are the things that we celebrate when a baby is born.

But there is another aspect of pregnancy and birth. There is an unexpected place in this journey where some families may find themselves. When a baby dies, a world is turned upside down. There is confusion, sadness, fear, and uncertainty that cannot be explained. There is sorrow where there should have been joy. During this time, it might be impossible for families to know what they might need in order to heal in the future.

This is the place where the Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep Foundation gently provides a helping hand and a healing heart. For families overcome by grief and pain, the idea of photographing their baby may not immediately occur to them. Offering gentle and beautiful photography services in a compassionate and sensitive manner is the heart of this organization. The soft, gentle heirloom photographs of these beautiful babies are an important part of the healing process. They allow families to honor and cherish their babies, and share the spirits of their lives.  The NILMDTS mission statement is to introduce remembrance photography to parents suffering the loss of a baby with the gift of professional portraiture.  We believe these images serve as an important step in the family’s healing process by honoring their child’s legacy.

The Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep Foundation (NILMDTS) administers a network of more than 7,000 volunteer photographers in the United States and 25 countries. At a family’s request, a NILMDTS Affiliated Photographer will come to your hospital or hospice location and conduct a sensitive and private portrait session. The portraits are then professionally retouched and presented to the families on an archival DVD or CD that can be used to print portraits of their cherished baby.

Our entire network of affiliated photographers graciously donate their time and talents to our families and we are proud to be able to offer our services at no cost. Your donations are greatly needed and greatly appreciated.

My husband and I lost a precious child 22 years ago.  I would give just about anything to have pictures of Tyler like the ones taken by this organization.


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