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The Long and Grief-stricken Road - an Editorial Review of "This Hallowed Ground" by Donna E. Lane

Author Bio:

Hi, I'm Dr. Donna Lane, and I’ve spent my life helping people, equipping clients, children, couples, families, and yes, even nations in crisis to tap into who God created them to be, understand how He has wired us as human beings, and discover that the Kingdom of God is within us – always. My passion is to help others explore and deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ, and my work and writings are geared toward that goal.

In addition to my roles as a private practitioner and professor of counseling at Mercer University, I am an award-winning multi-genre author. Using my understanding of how the brain and heart connect and my knowledge of complex mental health issues, my writings use storytelling to help you tap into your own story to wrestle with today’s life challenges – – whether you are an adult trying to understand suffering, a child seeking to overcome your fears, or anyone who longs for a deeper understanding of how the presence of God is with us and within us.

Along with my husband, Dr. David Lane, we developed a program for individuals suffering through trauma, initially used in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake. David and I also brought the program to Newtown, CT, following the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, leading training workshops for pastors and community workers to learn how to lead the program in their community. From those experiences, we co-wrote Trauma Narrative Treatment, a training program for individuals working with trauma victims, which has been used nationally and internationally, and Gold Stone, the children's book for all ages which accompanies Trauma Narrative Treatment. Since that time, the program has been used across the globe in areas experiencing disaster and trauma, including New Zealand, Rwanda, India, Romania, and many other locations. It has been translated into five languages so far.

I've presented at local, regional, national, and international conferences and workshops on such topics as trauma, grief and loss, marriage counseling, spiritual formation, toxic religion, early childhood education, and soul care. I also co-authored the award-winning Ready to Learn series, which teaches preschoolers and elementary students needed learning skills.

David and I have been married since 1979, and have three children; Hayden, Lindsey, and Cody, who passed away in 2007 after a battle with a degenerative neurological disorder. My writings on grief are informed by my own journey through the loss of my youngest son.

My books range from imaginings of other worlds and futuristic societies to profound explorations of deep theological concepts. They offer new perspectives, challenge in-depth self-examination, and encourage a fearless embrace of life’s joys and sorrows. I take you to other worlds and other times. I tackle difficult questions. I face genuine suffering and rejoice in God’s redemption. After you finish my books, I hope you find yourself enlivened and enriched, with a newfound desire to experience God to the fullest.

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Editorial Review:

Like ants followin' after a trail, we march out single file. That's it. I understand now. I'm nothing more than a worker ant. I have no individual value. I have no life beyond the brigade. I only have my task. I march without thought, one foot in front of the other in an endless drone of thuds, movin' through dense woods and across ridgelines.

As a reader and reviewer, I always highlight the most captivating and moving passages throughout a novel, and when the pages and pages of yellow glows in an endless stream, I know I've found something extraordinary. “This Hallowed Ground” is one of those remarkable and rare treasures you find in the mound of your to-read pile.

Mac's heartbreaking journey and his struggle to survive in the chaos of the American Civil War, leading to a very “Gone With the Wind” moment when he protects a true Southern Belle and her daughters as Richmond burns, onward to his capture by the Lakota Indians, where he becomes a member of the tribe... well, what can I say? This is a stunning and epic page-turner with all the elements of Outlander except for the time travel bit – you have an incredible story of love, grief, extreme trauma of seeing loved ones die, and soul-stirring redemption. If this book doesn't move you to tears, I'm not sure what will, for Ms Lane reached down into her soul and pulled out the words and feelings of a soldier on the battlefield, of the crushing agony of post-traumatic depression, plus the breathtaking details of not only the horrors of the battlefield but the unbelievable will that the human body has to keep living.

Mac vacillates between wanting to stop breathing and to fight on, and sometimes his rage becomes so powerful that it scares him... not to mention makes him question God and all the beliefs his mother instilled in him growing up. And this book delves deep into a person's inner spirituality, even with the native tribes and how their roots resonate in a culture quite unlike the mainstream Christianity that Mac is raised on. In other words, every single page of this book will leave you enraptured with plenty of moments of pause to consider not only how Ms Lane wove such beautiful passages, but it also causes you to reflect on your own life. This is what great historical fiction with a clear literary halo does for the reader... and when that happens, a book stays with you for days, weeks, perhaps forever after.

All the elements of fine fiction is present, with incredibly fleshed out characters with their Southern drawls and Scottish brogues, wrapped in a compelling storyline. This book should be savored over a period of time. Don't rush through this book. Even though I read the book in one sitting, my sitting lasted a couple of days with me eating, sleeping, and well... doing very little else. Books like this one are a joy to read... but you must be prepared for tears. Plus, you will be simply astounded at the amount of research that Ms Lane put into the book, and I found myself shaking my head at moments and trying to figure out how in the world she described some of the scenes (especially the battle scenes) with such clarity. You feel as if you are sitting there in a rocking chair on the side lines watching every single bullet rip through the mounding and dying soldiers. I am reminded of one of my favorite novels - “Cold Mountain” by Charles Frazier – and Mac is another character that you follow through the story and pray that everything turns out all right for him. By the time you finish this novel, you know this character inside and out – and you love him for his honesty and insight about the world around him, and the confusion sometimes filling his gut.

At one point, the author refers to the biblical story of Job, and that is exactly what Ms Lane has done. She has taken the question of faith, of hope, of love, of despair, and fixed it firmly in the tumultuous savagery of the war between the States. And you start to understand why the book is titled “This Hallowed Ground” since Mac is fighting for his beloved land... and yet, the scripture of “Thou shalt not kill” makes him question everything. He has blood on his hands... how will God ever forgive him? When everything is ultimately taken from him, he has to make choices that he might have never made before the war. Step by step, he travels a lonely path, up and down, from hero to deserter to slave to warrior, all in an attempt to cling to the hallowed ground he loves.

There are so many passages that I would love to share, but I'm only going to share a couple since I highly recommend you read this book and let the words soak through to your bones. Here are a few of my favorites:

The cannons thunder until my ears bleed. Several men on horseback pound along the line of trees, wavin' swords and screamin' out, but I can't understand a word of it. It brings to my mind the Lord God's challenge to Job: “Hast thou an arm like God? Or canst thou thunder with a voice like Him?” I guess we decided to try.

What I'm discovering is laughter is a very short step away from tears.


This Hallowed Ground” by Donna E. Lane receives five stars and the “Highly Recommended” award from The Historical Fiction Company


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