The Penny Review
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Abridged Audio Book: 5 CDs (approx. 6 hours)
Read by Ellen Archer

Fourteen-year-old Jenny Blake has never had any friends. But it’s not that she doesn’t want friends—it’s just that she’s afraid that her abusive father would do the same things to her friends that he does to her and to her older sister, Jean. But when she meets Orelia, one of the integrated students who attend class in the old portables next to Jenny’s school, Jenny realizes she’s found the perfect friend—one who, in 1955 St. Louis, wouldn’t dare to show her face in Jenny’s white neighborhood.

One day, as she’s on her way to see a Grace Kelly movie with Jean, Jenny spots a penny in the middle of the street. She goes back to pick it up, and she brings about a series of events that change her life forever. The penny eventually brings her to Orelia’s church, where she learns about God’s love and forgiveness. And it brings her to Miss Opal Shaw, the beautiful and mysterious woman who owns the jewelry store on Grand Avenue. Miss Shaw offers Jenny a job—and together, the two teach each other about trust and about facing their painful secrets. And they manage to change their lives by taking one small step at a time.

Written by novelist Bedford and Christian motivational speaker Meyer, The Penny tells an inspirational story with a strong message. At times, however, the message is poured on a bit too heavily—and the authors make their point a little too obvious. The metaphors are sometimes a little too transparent, too. But the story is touching and sweet nonetheless—and the characters are memorable.

Bedford and Meyer do a wonderful job of setting the scene in 1950s St. Louis—and you’ll have no problem at all picturing the store fronts or the characters—or Miss Shaw’s convertible—as you listen. And while many of the characters have been done before—the abused child, the abusive father, and the defenseless mother—the authors still manage to make you care about their story. It’s the supporting characters—like Orelia’s family and the mysterious Miss Shaw—though, who really make the story special.

Though it is a bit heavy at times, The Penny is a touching story with a valuable message—and it’s also a pretty good way to pass the time while you’re stuck in traffic.

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