I’m thrilled to have author Beth K. Vogt on Among the Reads today to share a little about her latest book, The Best We’ve Been. It released recently and I will be sharing my thoughts about it here on June 15, so be sure to come back then.
In the meantime, let’s hear what Beth has to say…
Beth, thank you for joining us today.
Will you tell us what inspired you to write The Best We’ve Been?
I’ve been thinking about writing Johanna’s story from the very beginning of this series, back when I knew her story wouldn’t be fleshed out until book three. I also knew that readers weren’t going to like Johanna based on how I introduced her at first—who she was, how she treated her sisters, Jillian and Payton. But Johanna had reasons why she acted the way she did, and The Best We’ve Been is when Johanna comes center stage so that we can begin to truly understand who she is.
Yeah, I’ve wondered about Johanna as I’ve read the series!
What real-life themes do you bring out in this third and final book in the series?
We all face choices in our lives. Some choices are simple. And some . . . some are so, so complicated because they not only affect us but they also affect people we care about. I also examine how life can fall apart so quickly, along with our facade of control. The unexpected events that change us in ways we never imagine. And then there’s a theme of second chances—are they possible? Is it always wise to give someone a second chance?
How do you expect the novel to resonate with your audience? What are you most excited for your readers to experience through reading this story?
One friend who read The Best We’ve Been told me that she’d experienced something Johanna goes through in the book—and that what I wrote brought it back for her, that it was emotional for her. I write about real life and I want my readers to be drawn into that—to struggle with the questions my characters are asking, the choices they are faced with. I also wove some of my life experience in the book, too, because authors write what we know, which for me means I sometimes write what I’ve lived. There’s humor in this book and there’s heartache—and I want my readers to embrace both.
It is obvious you understand the hearts of the sisters!
What is the role of faith in this story?
Some of the spiritual truths in The Best We’ve Been are pulled from my own experiences as a new believer. And it was fun to remember that time in my life, to share those memories with my editors as I talked about what I wanted to weave into the story and why. And some of what I wove into the story—the struggle? The questions we ask God? I’ve experienced that, too.
You’ve often referred to this series as “Little Women gone wrong.” Explain how your story incorporates themes that are similar to those of Alcott’s classic novel.
Little Women is a classic story that idealizes the relationships between four sisters. Just in the last few months we’ve seen yet another movie adaption of Louisa May Alcott’s novel, which was my favorite book growing up. For all their differences, the March girls are undergirded by a sense of loving unity and, well, goodness. The Thatcher sisters? Throughout this series of novels, I weave in the kind of reality you see in the popular TV show This Is Us. The Thatcher sisters struggle to find common ground, and their differences separate them, as well as secrets and the choices they make. The question is always: will they be able to overcome their differences and love one another, choose to be there for each other?
I felt like you had been eavesdropping on my sisters and myself as I read!
What truths do you hope readers will take away from The Best We’ve Been and the series as a whole?
I’ve always told my children that family is a mandatory formation up to a point—and then they have to choose to have a relationship with one another. This is played out within the Thatcher family. They are sisters, but at the beginning of the series, they don’t have a relationship with one another. In The Best We’ve Been, I hope readers see that “the best” doesn’t always mean you get what you hoped and prayed for—but what you have can still be good.
How true that is!!
Which of the Thatcher sisters was the most challenging to write, and why?
Johanna was the most challenging to write because readers didn’t like her at first, and I understand why. I intentionally wrote her as an unlikable character. But I had to weave enough into book one, Things I Never Told You, and book two, Moments We Forget, so that readers would go with me to book three, The Best We’ve Been, and hear Johanna out, so to speak.
How do you hope reading Johanna’s story will encourage readers?
One of my friends read book one, Things I Never Told You, and said she understood Johanna—that she knew there were reasons why she said and did the things she did. She offered Johanna, an imaginary character, understanding. I’m hoping as readers delve deeper into The Best We’ve Been, they’ll see that there’s always more to people than we realize.
What is it about Johanna’s story that women will relate to?
Women will relate to how Johanna walked away from a dream. How her heart was broken by someone she loved. How she’s been misunderstood. How her life has taken a very unexpected turn—and she can’t admit that she’s scared.
How do you hope that this book brings healing and refreshment to complicated family relationships?
I always write books about messy relationships because, well, I understand them. I’ve lived them. And I don’t always tie things up with a nice, neat bow at the end in my books—but there’s always hope. Always the truth that God offers us more than just the mess we might see right now. We don’t have to pretend to have all the answers.
What is one thing you learned about yourself through writing this book?
As I’ve written this series, I’ve been reminded again and again that life doesn’t have to be perfect to be good.
How does it feel to be wrapping up the Thatcher Sisters series? Could you tell us about some of your upcoming projects?
I’ve loved writing this series. I’m so thankful I had the opportunity to tell these stories. I’ve been mulling over another women’s fiction project and the underlying theme is going to be pulled from my life. Personal. Challenging.
I’m excited to see what you come up with! I’m subscribed to your newsletter for updates and will keep my eyes peeled!
Readers, be sure to read the preview and then grab your own copy! And feel free to share some of the graphics to tell others about this great book as well.
The Best We’ve Been
by Beth K. Vogt
Series: Thatcher Sisters #3
Published by Tyndale House Publishers
Publication Date May 5, 2020
Genres: Christian Fiction, Woman's Fiction
Setting: Colorado, North Carolina Contemporary
Main Character Ages: 35-60, 25-34
Written for: Adults
How can you choose what is right for you when your decision will break the heart of someone you love?
Having abandoned her childhood dream years ago, Johanna Thatcher knows what she wants from life. Discovering that her fiancé was cheating on her only convinces Johanna it’s best to maintain control and protect her heart.
Despite years of distance and friction, Johanna and her sisters, Jillian and Payton, have moved from a truce toward a fragile friendship. But then Johanna reveals she has the one thing Jillian wants most and may never have―and Johanna doesn’t want it. As Johanna wrestles with a choice that will change her life and her relationships with her sisters forever, the cracks in Jillian’s marriage and faith deepen. Through it all, the Thatcher sisters must decide once and for all what it means to be family.
Also in this series