A Good Story but Unrealistic Portrayal of Rehabilitation: My Review of Guiding Emily by Barbara Hinske #FantasticFridayReads #Fiction #Inspiration

What Audible Says


Sometimes the perfect partner has four paws….

Emily Main had it all: a high-powered career with a leading technology giant and a handsome fiancé bounding up the corporate ladder. Their island wedding and honeymoon were idyllic, until a tragic accident causes her retinas to detach.

Her well-ordered life is shattered as all treatments are unsuccessful and she slips into blindness. How will those around her cope with her tragedy? Can she rebuild her life in this most unwelcome new normal?

Meanwhile, a black Lab puppy named Garth fulfills his destiny to become that most esteemed of all creatures: a guide dog.

Guiding Emily is a heartwarming tale of love, loss, and courage as Garth and Emily make their way to each other.


Buy from Audible.


My Thoughts


I had opportunities to hear Barbara Hinske on two separate podcasts. She described what inspired her to write Guiding Emily and how she visited a training center for the blind as part of her research for the book. I found this fascinating.

That having been said, I’m not seeing “this most unwelcome new normal.” Just about everyone Emily comes in contact with after losing her vision knows how to help a blind person, and that doesn’t always happen in the real world. I should know. I’m visually impaired.

I would have liked to see more of Emily’s struggle to re-learn mundane skills such as cooking and dressing that most of us take for granted being able to do. Having worked with adults who lost their vision, I know how difficult the adjustment can be, but the author makes Emily’s rehabilitation sound like a piece of cake when I’m sure it wouldn’t have been.

I’ve never used a guide dog, but I know plenty of people who have them and have read many true stories about such experiences. Barbara Hinske breezes through Emily’s training with her guide dog, making it sound easier than it would have been.

Despite these shortcomings, I enjoyed Emily and Garth’s story. The chapters from the dog’s point of view add a nice touch. I like the narrators of this Audible version: a male reading chapters from the dog’s point of view and a female reading chapters from other characters’ points of view.

The prologue, in which Garth describes meeting Emily for the first time, is a red herring. I thought Garth was a human and was about to figuratively toss the book aside in disgust with this character who wanted to eat a Cheeto off the floor when I realized Garth was a dog. I love it!

Guiding Emily is the first in a trilogy. Although most loose ends are tied up at the end, one still flops in the breeze. So, I plan to check out the other two books in the series plus some of Barbara Hinske’s other work.


Abbie wears a blue and white V-neck top with different shades of blue from sky to navy that swirl together with the white. She has short, brown hair and rosy cheeks and smiles at the camera against a black background.

Photo Courtesy of Tess Anderson Photography

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Two Pentacles Publishing.

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New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

The cover of the book features an older woman sitting in a wicker chair facing a window. The world beyond the window is bright, and several plants are visible on the terrace. Behind the woman’s chair is another plant, with a tall stalk and wide rounded leaves. The woman has short, white hair, glasses, a red sweater, and tan pants. The border of the picture is a taupe color and reads "Why Grandma Doesn't Know Me" above the photo and "Abbie Johnson Taylor" below it.

Photo Resize and Description by

Two Pentacles Publishing.

Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.

After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.

Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.

Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?






Author: abbiejohnsontaylor

I'm the author of three novels, two poetry collections, and a memoir. My work has appeared in various journals and anthologies. I'm visually impaired and live in Sheridan, Wyoming, where for six years, I cared for my totally blind late husband who was paralyzed by two strokes. Please visit my website at: https://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com

7 thoughts on “A Good Story but Unrealistic Portrayal of Rehabilitation: My Review of Guiding Emily by Barbara Hinske #FantasticFridayReads #Fiction #Inspiration”

  1. Hi Abbie, I enjoyed this review quite a lot.
    This book, puts me in mind of some the late author Phyllis Staton Campbell wrote.
    In many of her books, such as come home my heart, a place to belong, and others she writes characters who have lost their sight and then seemingly regained their independence without much of a hick up at all.
    When I asked her about this after seeing what some wrote in a book review group I was on, concerning this very concern you write of here, she said,
    “Well, it’s a fiction. I suppose, maybe I should have written something like a disclaimer stating that things aren’t always as easy as this but I have as a rehab teacher, seen a few, rare cases where a quick adjustment happened and it was that I wanted to use in my books, so we could get to the business of solving mysteries, Etc.”
    I wish I’d asked her those questions during podcast interviews but Ah, I didn’t.
    I wonder, if you wrote this author and asked her, what she’d say to the question of why her character recovered so fast.
    Either way, I may have to check out this book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, this isn’t a mystery. Guiding Emily is about how Emily copes with sight loss and other hardships. Showing her struggling in rehabilitation and guide dog training would work here. But contacting Barbara Hinske might not be a bad idea.


  2. A good thoughtful evaluation of the book, Abbie. I surely agree with your poeint that it is not a walk-in-th part, or a smooth-sailing-ahead situation when one steps into the blindness world. Frankly, no matter how much research a sighted person does, they will never in a million years understand what it is like or be able to re-tell the journey of a person who is living this new life that will always be a difficult road under the best of circumstances.

    Liked by 1 person

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