Ever wonder what your life would be like if you had made different decisions? I know I have. I’ve done some downright crazy things in life and have spent many days wishing to erase them from my memory. Unfortunately, that is the nature of life. We all have events in our lives that didn’t go exactly the way we planned. We find ourselves wondering if we had chosen a different college, career, or spouse, would our lives be better. Would we have found that elusive happiness we longed for?
Stacy Hawkins Adams explores this scenario in The Someday List, the first book in her Jubilant Soul series (which continues with Worth a Thousand Words and Dreams That Won’t Let Go). Before becoming an award-winning novelist, Adams was a newspaper reporter and columnist for 14 years with the Richmond-Times Daily Dispatch. Hawkins has published six novels covering women’s issues and faith. She has also written a nonfiction book called Who Speaks to Your Heart?: Tuning in to Hear God’s Whispers. Several of Adams’ books have appeared on the Essence Bestseller List.
The Someday List is the story of Rachelle Covington, wife of a handsome surgeon. She lives with her two children in a perfect house and community. She has all the material trappings that come with her station in life but she is far from happy. Her perfect life becomes a prison of unhappiness.
After a tense outburst with her husband, Rachelle reaches her breaking point. She takes advantage of her husband’s mission trip and her children’s stay at their grandparents to get away and to see a dying friend. That visit shakes her, making her question her life. She returns to her hometown, Jubilant, Texas. There she faces her past, namely Troy Hardy. Seeing Troy again forces Rachelle to deal with her past, and her decisions will greatly impact her future.
Adams does an excellent job portraying the struggle between wanting to change the past and accepting the life we have. Rachelle is torn between her miserable life and the fantasy of righting a perceived wrong from her past. She spends much of her time wondering how things would’ve turned out if she’d made a different choice.
Regret is a powerful motivator, as Rachelle and Troy’s actions show. It keeps us in our past, relieving moments that we can’t change. The most damaging side effect of regret, however, is not recognizing the blessings God has given us now. The gift of the present is sacrificed for the regrets of the past.
The novel also depicts how the decisions we make now can negatively or positively impact the future. The characters’ choices make the story engaging, with some making decisions that eventually cause great hurt and pain. Others, like Rachelle and her husband, lead them down a road of great self-discovery.
The other characters in the book lend themselves to the reader’s introspection. We see ourselves, and our bad decisions, in them. We see the power of choice and how it impacts our lives. We also see how it only takes one bad decision to cause a great amount of pain and the truth that “good people” are not exempt from the consequences of bad choices.
Regret is only one of the themes of the novel. Greater than regret, Adams chronicles the power of having a dream. The importance of dreams cannot be stressed enough. Without them, life seems stagnant. Adams presents the Someday List much the way we think of “Bucket Lists” (things we want to do before we die). Her portrayal is not as morbid as “Bucket Lists” but they both aim for the same result: the realization of dreams.
Sometimes we don’t realize we’ve stopped dreaming until we are faced with death. Rachelle’s dying friend challenges her to create a someday list and causes Rachelle to take a fresh look at her life. In Rachelle’s case, a terminal illness drives her to introspection, but any type of loss has a way of making us reconsider our lives. The important lesson to learn is to make the most of every opportunity. Loss has a tendency to cause us to take stock of our lives. It reminds us of our finiteness. In order to ensure that our lives are filled with meaning, dreams are necessary. They become a guiding force through the tough times. They give our days a sense of forward motion.
Find out more about Stacy Hawkins Adams and her books at her website.