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The Carpenter’s Daughter~Jennifer Rodewald

Genre: Christian, Contemporary, Fiction
Publisher: Rooted Publishing
Publication Date: April 15, 2016 Number of pages: 349

One word can change a life…

Sarah Sharpe has grown up as a carpenter’s daughter, knowing only the rough and work-heavy world of her father’s blue-collar profession. Abandoned by her mother as a baby, she’s lived twenty-one years content to drive nails at her dad’s side. Following her father into the world of construction was a natural path, and she took it without a second thought. But a harsh comment about her “butch” appearance sends her on a search for identity.

Enter handsome and easygoing Jesse Chapman, the roofer she meets on her first foray into volunteer work for Homes For Hope. In every way, the quirky man is her opposite—confident, a people kind of guy, and most importantly, happy.  His likable qualities continue to draw her in, and for some reason he keeps coming back to her. But they can’t be more than friends—he’s made that crystal clear. Except for a handful of times…and the confusion is driving her crazy.

Sarah’s quest for self-definition becomes more tangled than she ever imagined, and she discovers that the journey will take her deeper than clothes and makeup. Filling the void in her heart becomes an obsession she cannot escape. How far is she willing to go to discover who she really is?
It’s always fun to see what was going on behind the scenes of a book. Here are a few little tidbits
from the creation of The Carpenter’s Daughter:
~Sarah Sharpe is probably my favorite character that I’ve written so far. She is raw and real and tough and vulnerable. A contradiction of steel and glass all wrapped up in her complicated self. I LOVE her! I see both the beauty and the fragility of life through her struggles and in her honesty.
I met Sarah after my own “Subway incident” (see the opening scene of The Carpenter’s Daughter), and walking with her through her journey has challenged me in ways that I didn’t expect (and didn’t always like). I really believe God gave me this imaginary friend so that I could understand Him and myself better. I’m so terribly grateful!~ Jesse is a real guy. Only I never met him, and I don’t know his actual story, so I made that part up. But I know there’s a guy sorta kinda like him out there. Several years ago my husband met him when he was volunteering for a Habitat For Humanity build. He came home and told me about this young man, a roofer, who traveled around, volunteering for programs like Habitat. Man I wished I’d have met him!
Sarah got to, though. Well, my made up version of him. He’s a fave now, too.~ In real life, I’m actually project-inept when it comes to construction stuff, which is totally a bummer and not even fair since my dad is a carpenter. Digging stuff up I can do. Anything that requires real skill? Not my strength. We lovingly refer to any project fail around our house as a “Jen Project.” And when I say we, I mean my husband. Bless him. J~ The mass housing renos toward the end of the book (Sorry. No sneak-peek there. You’ll have to read the book J) were also inspired by life. I was able to participate with a large demolition team for a full block renovation project in downtown Denver. The project planners were literally taking crack houses and turning them into rehab homes. Redemption comes in all forms. Don’t you love that?~One of the subtle themes of this story was the issue of gossip. Gossip was the wound that triggered Sarah’s journey, and while that wound gave birth to new life, it also caused all kinds of heartache. I was reminded of this theme just the other day when I ran into an acquaintance in the story. Dressed in sweats and looking a bit frazzled, I figured it’d been a day for her. I asked how she was doing, and with a hint of tears, she proceeded to tell me about not only her day, but her week. Awful. Here’s the deal: this woman is normally a very put-together person. Her appearance that day was unusual (honestly, even if it wasn’t, I wouldn’t have given it a second thought. I’ve been a gym rat most of my life, so sweats are normal to me). But as she was ending her story she said something rather profound…
“Never again will I look at someone who is in the store looking sloppy and think, ‘why can’t they at least get dressed before the come to shop?’ You never know what’s going on in their lives.”
No. You don’t. And you never know what your words, whispered or not, can do.
I was reminded of the Proverbs where is says, Life and death are in the power of your words.
Indeed, they are. I am challenged to be more careful with both my spoken words and with the thoughts I allow to take root.~Lastly (and a bit lighter J)…my sister was the cover model for The Carpenter’s Daughter. We chose to go without a face (sorry to all the decapitated cover haters—they’re usually not my fave either—but this time it seemed necessary) because we wanted the reader to imagine the before and after Sarah, and to imagine their awkward neighbor, their loner acquaintance, or even themselves holding her hammer and walking life through her steel-toed boots.

Sneak-peek opening scene of  The Carpenter’s Daughter…
Copyright © 2016 Jennifer Rodewald
All rights reserved.

Chapter One
“I think it’s a woman.”
My world stalled as those words swirled behind me, sent into the air by a woman I’d never met.
I had stepped through the Subway door two minutes before, my only thought centered on satisfying my howling stomach. Cold air had kissed my sunburned cheeks, and I shivered as the sweat on my back cooled. A crowd had gathered in the restaurant for the Saturday dinner rush. Weekend warriors and little-league fans lined the length of the counter. I’d taken a place at the end of the line and was reading the options posted above the sandwich counter, right up to the moment that gashing remark registered in my brain.
Me. They were talking about me.
“It’s a woman,” the not-so-quiet woman hissed. “She’s wearing a bra.”
“She’s certainly trying to disguise it,” another female responded, her whisper not much lower than the first. “Why are so many young women going butch these days?”
“Well. She isn’t very pretty.”
“Nobody would look pretty in that getup. Men’s clothes, clunky boots, and hacked-up hair barely hanging below that filthy hat? Come on. She’s trying not to look pretty. Butch, I’m
telling you. She’s just butch.”
Heat raced across my face, which had nothing to do with the fact that I hadn’t worn my “filthy” hat on the roof most of the morning. Never in my life had I felt spat on by a conversation. Minden, Nebraska, wasn’t a big town, and I was known there. Dad was a respected general contractor, and I’d been his foreman for three years, since I turned eighteen. Nobody ever thought anything about my appearance. In fact, few seemed to notice me at all.
But we weren’t in Minden that week. A job had us on the road, working in a town a hundred miles west.
I tugged on my hat bill, trying to hide. Staring at my reflection in the Plexiglas separating people from food, I took in my grimy face. Yuck. My examination dropped to my man-hands. Ugh. My gaze fell further, until it settled on my steel-toed work boots.
Butch. My throat constricted with strangling force.
“Can I help you?”
I swallowed. “Um—” I scanned my brain, feeling more stupid with every awkward moment. I couldn’t remember what I’d decided to order. “Uh, three footlongs, please.”
The teenager in uniform rolled his eyes. “What kind?”
“Oh yeah, sorry.” This horrible scene kept getting worse. I licked my lips and swallowed again. “Cold cut, I guess.”
I blinked. Of course I wanted bread. What was the kid talking about?
He huffed. “What kind of bread?”
“Wheat.” I cleared my throat and commanded my attention back to the errand.
Butch. My pulse throbbed.
A torturous amount of time passed before I had the bags of food in one hand and three Cokes precariously positioned in the crook of my other arm. I wanted to run out the door.
Don’t look at them.
Pushing the exit open with my backside, I involuntarily rebelled against logic.
Two women stared back from the middle booth. One had dyed blond hair cut short and trendy, and the other’s longer black hair had been styled and sprayed to perfection. Early to midfifties. Flawless skin on both faces, which contrasted dreadfully with their contemptuous eyes. The darker of the two actually shook her head.
My stomach hurt, like a rope had been looped around it and yanked tight. I spun out the door. A pair of large, rough hands caught me as I smashed into the solid barrier of a man’s chest.
“Whoa there.” His voice grabbed my attention and pulled it upward. Of all the horrible moments to bump into—literally—a good-looking guy.
“I’m sorry.” He smiled.
I trembled inside.
“Let me help you.” He reached for my bag of sandwiches.
I juggled the cups against my middle. The icy soda seeped through my T-shirt. Add slob to butch. Covering a groan, I looked into the man’s vivid green eyes, which were framed by chocolate-brown brows. His easy grin seemed genuine. Something inside my chest fluttered—an odd and ridiculous sensation. Especially for a butch girl.
Fire crept up my neck. I hung my head, hoping the bill of my hat hid my flaming face. “That’s all right. I’ve got it. Sorry I ran into you.”
I lurched away and double-timed it to the truck, agonizing over both humiliations. Maybe Subway was the only fast-food joint in town, but there was no way I was going back. Dad and Uncle Dan would have to deal with Wonder Bread and peanut butter.
Smiling Book Reviews–Guest Post: Introducing the Carpenter’s Daughter…and Sharing a New That Lasts
Reading is My SuperPower–Endorsements + Gust Post: Enough
cherylbbookblog –Game: Word Search
Toni Shiloh Prayerfully-Lifted Romance–Sales Post
Katie’s Clean Book Collection–Character Sketch
Bloomfield Of Thoughts–Guest Post: I am Loved
KJ’s Book Nook–Game: Puzzles
The Editor’s Note–Behind the Scenes (plus a sneak-peek)…
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations–Playlist
Singing Librarian Books–Guest Post: The Story Behind the Cover