My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Told from nine year old Abby’s point of view, we are plunged into the disbelief and overwhelming sorrow of a family trying to grieve the death of a child.
Preacher John McAndrews, his wife Renee, Matt, Abby and Joel are enjoying their first real holiday together, when there is what appears to be a minor car accident and Joel, just three years of age is killed. What follows is the cycle of grief that threatens to engulf the whole family so one is left to wonder if they are going to be able to come through the grief still united. Each person within the family deal with the loss in their own way. From acting out, refusal to acknowledge the situation, from high levels of anxiety to stoically holding the family together, grief is explored in numerous ways. The behaviour of each person is understandable and there are no instant moments of faith and acceptance. There is a real struggle with faith and understanding God’s Will in this book.
This is not to say that there is no encouragement for Christian readers to take a hold of. There are plenty of passages that are meant as a reminder and encouragement along the way. Its just that the characters aren’t spewing out cheery bible verses every time a hardship comes upon them. Rather this is an in-depth study of grief with the underlying question of why does God allow bad things to happen to good people, but no platitudes. The story ends not with clear cut answers but rather an understanding that you can doubt and yet believe.
The characters are well drawn and understandable and one almost grieves right along side them. Tenderly written, never preachy, this is a Christian novel done exceptionally well.