Monday, February 28, 2011

Book Review: Healing Waters

Back in December, needing some Christmas gifts, I allowed myself to wander in and browse our library's book sale room (always a temptation). I found two small books for my niece, as I had hoped and I picked up two books for myself, one a collection of devotional thoughts by Karen Kingsbury and the other one this novel by Nancy Rue and Stephen Arterburn. If I had already read this book, I would have chosen to give this to my niece instead of the two (unread) books I selected (always a gamble and this time one I wasn't happy with).

Healing Waters is probably the first Christian novel I have ever read where it began with a skeptical narrator casting Christianity (or at least a toxic version of Christianity) in a negative light. I won't lie ... I found that intriguing. The story brought the narrator from a place of unbelief to a place of stable faith. The fast paced, action-filled story unfolded beautifully and clearly identified that even Christians sometimes present Christianity in a way that is harmful and scarring.

Lucia Coffey is a giver. She meets the needs of those around her, but stuffs her own and drowns them in food binges. The story begins as she is heading to the airport to pick up her sister, Sonia Cabot. The slender, attractive Sonia is a well-known spokesperson for Abundant Living Ministries, an organization pushing a prosperity gospel that says God blesses those who allow Him to heal them of their sins. While God does, indeed, heal and bless those who turn to Him, at ALM, they believe that coin to be two-sided, so that those who are not feeling His blessing must not be following close after Him. Tragically, for Sonia, tragedy strikes and the foundations of her "religion" are shaken to the core.

As Lucia stands by her sister, determined to protect Sonia's six year old daughter, Bethany, she realizes that she needs some help in knowing how best to help this frightened little girl. She turns to Sullivan Crisp, a psychologist who is battling some of his own demons but who sees Bethany, Lucia and Sonia's desperate need for healing and decides to stand in the gap.

I loved that this novel kept me guessing as to what was going to happen next. Although I did figure out the main perpetrator of the tragedy well in advance, it was still a very suspenseful book. The characters were genuine and the plot, well-executed. At just over 400 pages, I devoured this book quickly.

It was chosen as the 2009 Novel of the Year for Women of Faith. They promise "a reading experience that will capture your imagination and inspire your faith." This book delivered. And with an excerpt at the end from another Sullivan Crisp novel, titled Healing Stones, I'm liable to be looking for further tales in this series. They seem to deliver real characters with real problems and real faith!

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