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Hearts Set Free
Jess Lederman. Azure Star, $14.95 trade paper (398p) ISBN 978-0-9986-0301-8
Lederman’s powerful debut interlaces three stories that span nearly a century and are tied together by a church of outcasts in Las Vegas. Luke Noongwook and his mother, Yura, leave the Alaskan territory in 1925 to search for Luke’s father, who left his family for a beautiful woman that Yura vows to kill. Earlier, during the height of WWI, boxer and bible school dropout David Gold struggles with deep questions about God and about what God wants of him. After a bout, he is recruited by a prostitute to be the head pastor of the Church of the Heart Set Free in Las Vegas. In that position he preaches to a diverse cast of repentant sinners and, years later, meets Luke and Yura and offers to teach them about God. In 2011, television producer Tim Faber and his lover, Joan Reed, head to Las Vegas to interview the elderly Luke for a story. Tim puts his faith in science rather than God, but his search for pleasure in sin city leaves him questioning matters of the soul. Meanwhile, Joan rediscovers the faith of her youth after speaking with Luke. While it can be a challenge to keep track of the many supporting characters, Lederman smoothly weds each of the three plotlines through the Church of the Heart Set Free. Readers of inspirational fiction will love this moving story that affirms the power of God’s mercy. (Self-published.)

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly on 10/11/2019

Release date 03/01/2019