Friday, July 22, 2016

Book Review: The Weight of Shadows

Guilt can be a perilous thing to carry. In The Weight of Shadows, Alison Strobel crafts a sensitive novel portraying the devastation of guilt and the power of grace. Three characters in the novel are broken by their pasts and their lives intersect on a trajectory that demonstrates God's love and forgiveness.

Kim is a young woman who has never felt the love of family or a sense of belonging. She is drawn to her new boyfriend, Rick, because he provides that for her. His provisions are not without a price, however, and Kim is willing to pay that price because she thinks she must atone for past sins.

Joshua is a man dealing with the grief of great loss, raising his only daughter alone after losing his wife to cancer. What's more, his in-laws hold him responsible for his wife's death because he encouraged her to seek alternative treatments. Now they are trying to do everything they can to seize custody of his daughter. Because of this, he cannot risk assisting his neighbor, Kim, even though he can tell that things are desperate for her.

Debbie is determined to save the lives of women who are in bad relationships. She cannot seem to find an acceptable relationship for herself, but she is driven to meet the needs of her women at the shelter she runs. Debbie, Joshua, and Kim are on a collision course and because of God's love, it will bring a satisfying resolution.

As far as Christian fiction goes, I felt Alison Strobel did a good job of crafting a meaningful story without sinking it under the weight of the message. Indeed, I thought if a non-Christian picked this book up, they would find a gentle introduction to the power of God's grace. Then, I went to view the Amazon reviews and found that almost all of the negative reviews highlighted a discontent with the Christian aspects of the novel. These readers felt the writing was heavy-handed with Christianese. So, perhaps the message still came off as more important than the story (my chief complaint against Christian fiction).

I, personally, thought the book was good. Her characters were realistic. The situations they were in brought out subtle opportunities to shine God's light through without being overbearing. Even though the resolution was a bit too coincidental and too tidy, I found it satisfying, nonetheless. I would read more from this author.

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