Thursday, September 12, 2013

Book Review: The Chance

If I'm going to seek out Christian fiction (not always the case with me - I'm usually on the lookout for what sounds like a good story, not a spiritual lesson), then Karen Kingsbury's name is one that comes up at the top of the list of good authors.  When I began reading this one, it sounded familiar and I wondered if I had read it before, but it only came out this year, so that was obviously not the case.  Turns out I read a preview of this book, The Chance, back in January when I read The Bridge.  She's smart to put the first few pages of her next novel at the end of each book.  I get hooked right away.

Ellie Tucker and Nolan Cook are best friends.  In fact, Nolan often teasingly tells Ellie that he plans to marry her one day.  But when Ellie's father discovers his wife is pregnant with another man's child, he decides to hurt her by moving away with Ellie to San Diego.  The night before their hasty departure, Ellie and Nolan meet under their favorite tree and write letters to each other declaring their true feelings for one another.  They place the letters in a tackle box and agree to return to the site eleven years later to read the letters.

However, time has muddied the waters with letters that have gone undelivered and feelings of abandonment.  Ellie, having lost her faith during the intervening years, focuses entirely on raising her six year old daughter, Kinzie (named after the street where she and Nolan used to meet).  Nolan, whose faith was actually fortified and strengthened despite the loss of his father, continues to feel a hole in his heart that only Ellie can fill.  Unfortunately, Ellie doesn't want to be found and is convinced that Nolan wouldn't want her if he knew who she has become.

I will admit, the book took a great deal of suspension of disbelief for me.  I struggled to believe that the two friends would have lost contact so thoroughly so early on in their story.  I also struggled to believe that both the mother and the boyfriend wouldn't have put more effort into the search or been able to find the girl in this day and age.  Although I enjoyed the happy ending, it was perhaps too sweet.

Still, I thoroughly enjoyed the book.  As always, Kingsbury sucks the reader into the story and doesn't let go until the final resolution appears.  She creates beautiful, believable characters who face common difficulties and rely on faith to ferret out the solutions to life's pressing problems. She doesn't beat her religion over the heads of readers, but subtly weaves in spiritual insights through the situations her characters face.  Foremost, I appreciate that she is big on grace and redemption (my favorite story elements).

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