Jana McGuire returns home from a mission trip to Africa hoping to surprise her husband, Rob, with the news that they are going to have a baby. Instead, Jana
comes home to an empty house and a note from Rob saying that he has left her for his secretary.
He has cleaned out their bank accounts and even sold Jana’s few pieces of jewelry. To add insult to injury, Jana finds out that Rob resigned from his job as pastor of their church as soon as she left for Africa, telling the congregation that she wants a divorce. The church has hired a new pastor, and he needs to move into the pastorate—Jana’s home—by the end of the week. Suddenly, Jana is single, pregnant and broke. She has no options except to stay with her mother, Eleanor, and her great-aunt Taffy in Montana.
Jana and Eleanor have a bitter relationship. At first, the two women circle warily around each other, but they have to learn to at least tolerate each other if they
are to live together. Their relationship gets even worse when Jana finds out that Rob’s secretary’s ex-husband has murdered him. Eleanor can’t offer Jana comfort as she grieves; instead, she
grows more angry and judgmental than ever, even suggesting that Jana abort her baby.
Taffy, on the other hand, is a delightful, optimistic woman of faith. She deeply loves both Eleanor and Jana, and she wants them to live with her. Taffy knows why Eleanor doesn’t want Jana around. She knows the story—a grim story of intergenerational sin, adultery, incest and rape—and she knows it must be revealed for Jana and Eleanor to heal. She prays and gently nudges Jana and Eleanor toward the truth.
Without minimizing their pain or offering Christian platitudes, Peterson shows that, by trusting God and accepting His love, Jana and Eleanor receive healing
of their past. As they heal, Jana and Eleanor cautiously reach out to each other and begin to build a new relationship. By the time Jana’s daughter, Meira, is born, Jana, Eleanor and Taffy have become a family who love and care for one another.
Tracie Peterson does deals sensitively and compassionately with a difficult subject. The story moves forward smoothly despite flashbacks to Eleanor’s childhood. Peterson shows how pain and dysfunction get transmitted from one generation to the next, and how the cycle can be broken. What She Left for Me offers hope to women who have suffered broken hearts and relationships. It shows how hearts can be healed, relationships can be restored, and intergenerational cycles can be broken.