If I Believe is the second novel in Kim Cash Tate’s Promises of God series. The first book in the series is Though I Stumble, which is amazing in its own right, and definitely should be read first in order to get the continuity with the characters. This post contains affiliate links, see disclosure page for more details
Tate is a deep, affecting writer. Her books explore issues of life, love, identity, family, friendship, and so much more. Characters get deep under your skin and don’t let go. I discovered Kim Cash Tate a number of years ago when she published her first books. I do have to say, some of the characters in this new series do go back to those very first books, so if you want to get the full, big picture, you should read them all (and I recommend that you do, because they are truly life changing).
“For every brown girl who ever felt excluded from tales of ‘ever after’ ”
But…but… you are all thinking, “Melissa is white! How can she relate to these books? Aren’t they written for African Americans?” The short answer is yes…and no. Yes, these books feature black characters, so African American readers may feel a greater sense of connection to characters that have similarities to them, but no, because I don’t feel these novels are written solely for an African American audience. To limit them to one particular group of people would be for others to miss an amazing blessing. The authenticity of the characters and the universal spiritual truths are the same, regardless of the color of one’s skin.
The main character in If I Believe is Cinda Ellis (get where the dedication is pointing?) She is a woman raised partially by her grandmother and also by her alcoholic mother. She never knew her father, but when her mother was dying, she shared information with Cinda about his identity and location. The novel opens with Cinda appearing on her father’s doorstep, taking a leap to see if he will accept her into his life. Randall is shocked and thrilled to meet her, and does want to get to know her better. Randall’s wife and twin daughters are another story–none of them are thrilled with Cinda’s arrival and question her motives for being there. When something horrific happens, Cinda finds solace with the women she has become acquainted with at New Hope Church, and through a Bible study, is able to discover more about herself and Jesus. Along the way, she is introduced to Alonzo Coles, an up and coming heartthrob actor who is a bit of a player. Cinda doesn’t want anything to do with him at first, but as he begins to pursue his faith, the two grow closer.
Treva and Lance are trying to figure out life as newly married adults–all the while having Treva’s daughters and granddaughter living with them. Faith is trying to discover whether or not she wants to be with Jesse and how much she wants him in her life, especially when he doesn’t act in the ways he should. Yet Faith knows that her daughter needs her father, so she can’t just cut Jesse out forever. Lance pushes Treva to step out of her comfort zone, and she develops and teaches a Bible study based on the “If” statements in the Bible and how those relate to life. This is the element that makes Tate’s books so superb, the way organic faith is incorporated into the story. I found myself in tears over and over as the Bible studies related to something I’m going through in my own life. I alternated between wanting to devour this book in one huge gulp because I wanted to know what was going to happen, to spending more time with it pulling out every last morsel of learning that I could from each page.
These compelling characters are realistic and dealing with real-life situations. They aren’t sugar coated, everything is related as we would experience them. Newlyweds having difficulty figuring out their sex lives, unmarried parents learning how to share time with their child, a couple dealing with the physical temptations of a dating relationship–these are all examined in the context of people trying to live their lives in God’s way. They stumble, they fall, but they get back up again with the help of God and each other and learn from their mistakes, and sometimes they repeat the same errors again–sound familiar?
I can sing the praises of this novel and of Kim Cash Tate all day long, but the bottom line is that everyone should read these superlative books. They will burrow down into your soul and show you just how much Jesus loves and cares for you in the midst of your messy life. “God’s hands aren’t tied because we mess things up.” Insightful, relatable, and powerful, If I Believe will make you hunger for more of Him.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author, all opinions are honest and my own.