The Penny (Faith Words, 2007) is the story of a young girl, Jenny who is growing up with an abusive father in a run down part of St. Louis. The story begins in 1955 when through a surprising course of events Jenny is befriended by the owner of a jewelry shop, Miss Shaw, who offers her some casual work in her shop. Jenny is both mystified and apprehensive of Miss Shaw who, like Jenny, has many secrets. Jenny also makes friends with a girl, Aurelia, from a Christian family who is part of the coloured community in St. Louis, yet she attends the same school as Jenny. In different ways Aurelia and Miss Shaw both challenge Jenny’s ideas about herself and God.

I enjoyed this book by Joyce Meyer and Deborah Bedford because, despite all the tragic events that happen, it is a story with full of hope and the assurance there is a God who cares. Knowing a little of Joyce Meyer’s own history I’m curious to know how much of the story is autobiographical. I suspect that while the events may be a product of Joyce’s and Deborah’s imagination, the emotional content could well be a true reflection of Joyce’s own journey through pain. Personally I find this validating. Knowing the author of this fictional novel has been through the pain of her protagonist creates realistic hope in a God who works through the most heartbreaking of circumstances.

The book also includes questions for book groups.