Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Tea & Read: Not a Sparrow Falls

Title: Not a Sparrow Falls
Author: Linda Nichols
Rating: Spend the Day Sleepy

In this powerful story of redemption and love, a prodigal young woman from the hills of Virginia flees the men who had lured her away from a godly upbringing into a life of desperation. Taking on a new identity, Mary Bridget Washburn escapes to the quaint city of Alexandria, Virginia, where her path crosses that of a widowed minister with three young children and daunting problems of his own. Can Mary Bridget and her tainted past stay hidden long enough for her to bring hope to a family falling apart?

I discovered Linda Nichols a few years ago when I read At the Scent of Water. It was at a time that I was desperately seeking books from Christian authors I’d never read before. The book impressed me, but I hadn’t read anything else by Nichols. But she wasn’t far from my mind because Janice Lowery, First Lady of National Church of God, had discovered Nichols and fell in love with her books, too. Mama Janice and I had a few conversations about At the Scent of Water. I was really excited when she told me she’d let me borrow In Search of Eden. Mama Janice was the first person I thought of when I received my copy of Not a Sparrow Falls.

Now, I must admit, I’m a bit critical about the “Christian” message in books, mainly because it’s often heavy-handed. Most of the “conversions” are contrived and the characters have to twist into some awkward positions in order to see Jesus. In this book, however, the theme of redemption is woven in each scene. Each character discovers God’s redemptive power in their own way. Also, Nichols has a way with finding a scripture and creating a moving story around it. She beautifully illustrates the promise of Matthew 10:29.

The pacing was great, also. I only found myself skimming twice, mainly at the end of chapters because I was eager to know what happened next. Some parts of the plot seemed predictable when I began the book, like Samantha’s life as troubled teen and Jonah’s situation. Nichols, however, takes these time-honored roles and made them interesting enough to keep me turning the pages.

Most of all, I think I enjoyed the book because it touches on the topic of ministerial burn-out. It is something that happens in church often but no one really seems to offer any solutions. The book, even thought it’s a fictional account, shows a pretty realistic picture of how ministers get trapped in doing the Lord’s work but not hearing from Him. I found myself going from rooting for Alistair to turn things around to being angry that he couldn’t see how far he’d gone from what God intending.

More than once while reading this book, I had to force myself to stop reading in go to bed. Only a great book will make me do that. And of course, Mama Janice will be getting this book from me soon.

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