Amazing Grace Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace revolves around characters who meet each other and connect during the aftermath of a major earthquake in San Francisco. Sister Maggie Kent used to be a nurse before she joined the church and became a nun. She is married to God and the homeless people of San Francisco. When the story opens, Sarah Sloane is busy setting up the ballroom of the Ritz-Carlton for a benefit which Sister Maggie Kent will be attending. Grammy award winner, 19 year old Melanie Free will be singing at the benefit and photographer Everett Carson has been sent by a magazine to photograph it.
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Sarah Sloane started the benefit for the neonatal unit of the hospital where her daughter, Molly, was saved after being born 3 months prematurely. Sarah's children Molly and Oliver, are 3 and 9 months old. Sarah is married to a wheeler dealer, named Seth, whom she met at Harvard Business School. The couple have their own plane, very expensive cars, a house in San Francisco and one in Lake Tahoe. Seth loves to spoil Sarah and buys her expensive jewelry and clothing. Sarah and Seth have decided to stay at the Ritz-Carlton on the night of the benefit but when Seth arrives at the hotel shortly before the benefit is about to begin, he seems more tense than usual.

Before the benefit begins, Sarah goes to the penthouse suite to introduce herself to Grammy award winner, Melanie Free. Melanie is surrounded by her band and entourage, a boyfriend called Jake, who is either high or drunk and an overbearing mother, Janet. Melanie is very quiet and unassuming and Sarah warms to her immediately.

Everett Carson used to be a famous war correspondent but alcohol had ruined his life for over 30 years and he was now working for a Hollywood gossip magazine called Scoop. He had been dry now for over a year and was feeling better about himself but definitely not enjoying his job. Everett was now in his late 40's and had got married in his late teens and fathered a son, however, he walked out when the son was a baby and went on a 30 year binge.

Sister Mary Magdalen, or Maggie Kent as she was known, had been given a ticket to the benefit by a social worker. Sarah immediately recognized her and remembered she was known as the Mother Teresa of San Francisco. Maggie did not want to be there and felt most uncomfortable. The concert began and Melanie Free had everyone mesmerized, including Maggie. Suddenly, the chandeliers started shaking and the ballroom was plunged into darkness and nearly 600 people were trying to get to the exit. Everett had been next to Melanie when the quake happened and make sure she was OK. Maggie was already up and trying find people to help. Eventually they get out of the ballroom and into the street, where the people who are not insured are being encouraged to go to a shelter. Maggie, Melanie and Everett stay to help the injured.

Everett is busy taking photographs and is enthralled by Maggie and her piercing blue eyes. They start chatting and Everett eventually walks Maggie to her home which is in a rough neighborhood and she explains that she is a nun. Sarah and Seth manage to get a lift home and are terrified that their children might have been harmed but the babysitter has looked after the children well and they are sleeping. Seth is in a flat panic there are no telephone lines or cell phone signal. He explains to Sarah that if he doesn't get through to the New York office before Monday, he is going to be in serious trouble and probably go to prison. He needed to switch $60 million to another account or he would be prosecuted for fraud.

Roads and bridges are closed so all those people who are now homeless or can't get back to where they are staying go to the Presidio. This is manned by the National Guard and Red Cross volunteers. Cots, blankets, food and water are available for everyone. While Melanie's mother and Melanie's boyfriend, Jake are busy complaining about their lot, Melanie goes to help in the hospital and finds Maggie again. Maggie and Melanie form a good friendship and Maggie can see that Melanie wants to do more with her life but her mother controls her every move.

Everett has been busy photographing the disaster and its casualties. The shelter in which he was staying is closed, so he joins Maggie and Melanie at the Presidio. Sarah brings her baby to the clinic at the Presidio and Melanie spots her and helps her find a doctor. Maggie comes over for a chat and can see that there is more bothering Sarah than the earthquake. She gives Sarah her telephone number, so that she can get into contact when the lines are up and running. Maggie and Everett find it very easy to talk to each other and obviously enjoy each other's company. Maggie wants to know if Everett has ever tried to find his son, whom he abandoned nearly 30 years ago. Everett says he hasn't. Maggie persuades Everett to start AA meetings at the camp and says there must be a lot of people there who need to go to meetings - it was a great success. Everett and Maggie were falling in love.

Melanie was carrying a heavy box full of medical supplies when a young man named Tom, asked if you could help her. He asked if they had met before as she looked familiar. Tom had no idea that Melanie was a megastar. Tom went to UCLA and did engineering and wants to do something useful with his life, unlike Melanie's leeching boyfriend. After Melanie finds Jake in bed with your best friend, she leaves Jake and becomes closer to Tom.

Tensions were running high between Seth and Sarah. Sarah still loved Seth but felt totally betrayed. He had destroyed their lives and they were sitting waiting for the FBI to arrive and arrest him. They couldn't bear to be in the same room together

Eights days after the quake, the airport was reopened. Melanie and her entourage were among the first to leave. Melanie had a tour coming up and Tom had promised to go and see her in LA. Everett had to get back to LA to deliver his amazing photographs. He was the only professional photographer who had captured the quake and its aftermath, but he didn't want to leave Maggie. As he said goodbye to her, he slipped his one year AA chip into her hand.

Seth is told by his lawyer that he could get up to 30 years in prison. He bail is set at $10 million and Sarah and Seth have to start selling everything in order to pay all the people he has swindled. Sarah decides they can no longer live together, so she gets a small flat with the children and finds a job at the hospital for whom she organised the fund raiser. Maggie is very supportive throughout and speaks to Sarah on a regular basis, saying she has to learn to forgive Seth, for her own peace of mine.

Everett decided to return to San Francisco to give Maggie copies of the photographs he had taken. They had a pleasant couple of days together. Tom goes to see Melanie at her home and they and very happy to see each other, but Janet, is not so pleased to see Tom. Melanie told Tom about a priest Maggie had mentioned, who runs a Catholic mission in Mexico and how she would love to go and volunteer, but her mother would be furious. They have many more visits together and Tom enjoys attending Melanie's concerts. Melanie sustained a hair line fracture in her foot during one concert and this plagued her for the rest of her four month tour, but her new found love for Tom keeps her going.

Everett, Melanie and Sarah are constantly in touch with Maggie. She listens to their problems and gives sound advice. Melanie decides to take Maggie's advise and arranged to go to Mexico to help out at the mission. She tells her mother the night before she is leaving so there won't be long drawn out scenes. Tom is very supportive and says he will go and see her while she is in Mexico. Maggie is delighted when she hears and knows that it is exactly what both Melanie and her mother need to move on in life. Melanie and Tom go from strength to strength and decide to marry. Even Janet seems pleased by this stage.

Everett was constantly finding excuses to visit San Francisco and on one of his visits finds himself kissing Maggie. This upsets Maggie greatly, as obviously nuns do not have relationships with men. Maggie's mind is in turmoil. Both Maggie and Everett confess that they love each other and Everett gives Maggie all the time she needs to make a decision. He desperately wants to marry her.

Maggie and Sarah had Christmas Day tea together, while Everett was jetting in to surprise Maggie. They had a wonderful evening together and Maggie said she was still battling to make her decision. On Boxing Day Everett decides to find his long lost son. He discovers he is living in Butte, Montana and flies there and books himself into a motel. They meet that evening and Everett's son, Chad is delighted to meet his father and invites him to his house the following day to meet his wife and children. Everett rings Maggie to thank her for pushing him to make contact and lay the ghosts of the past.

In March, Everett was sent to San Francisco to cover Seth's trial. Maggie was there every day to support Sarah who was determined to be there for Seth. Seth is sentenced to fifteen years in prison and Sarah is finally able to forgive him - amazing grace. Melanie and Everett had managed to persuade Maggie to go to Melanie's Memorial Day concert in LA. They tried to get Sarah to go but she was taking the children to see Seth that weekend. Even though they were getting divorced, they were still friends and the parents of their children. After the concert, Maggie tells Everett that she is taking a job in LA, filling in for the Catholic priest while he was in Mexico. It slowly dawns on Everett that Maggie has made her decision, she has left the church. Maggie moves to LA and Everett and Maggie marry.
Best part of story, including ending: This is a story of selflessness and how people who put effort into life, always get something good out of it.

Best scene in story: Everett's meeting with his son after nearly 30 years of absence is very moving, especially when he meets his grandchildren for the first time.

Opinion about the main character: Maggie is a nun who is absolutely devoted to her work and God. When Maggie meets Everett, her world is turned upside down as she battles to decide whether choose to stay in the church or to marry Everett.

The review of this Book prepared by Carole Tucker a Level 2 American Robin scholar

Chapter Analysis of Amazing Grace

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Plot & Themes

Time/era of story    -   2000+ (Present Day) Inner struggle subplot    -   Yes Struggle with...    -   religious issues

Main Male Character

Profession/status:    -   journalist

Main Female Character

Age/status:    -   40's-50's Profession/status:    -   nurse


United States    -   Yes City?    -   Yes

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   generic/vague references to death/punishment What % of story is romance related?    -   70% How explicit is the sex?    -   descript of kissing

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