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Archive for the tag “hope”

Review: Inescapable (Road to Kingdom #1)

 Inescapable (Road to Kingdom #1) by Nancy Mehl, if you will recall, was part of my Mailbox Madness, an impulse purchase from Amazon after reading a review. According to Amazon:

“Lizzie Engel is used to running away. At eighteen, she left her Mennonite hometown, her family, and her faith with plans never to return. Five years later, Lizzie finds she’ll have to run again. False accusations at her job, a stalker, and a string of anonymous threatening letters have left her with no other options. This time, however, her escape is back to Kingdom, her hometown.

As Lizzie becomes reacquainted with Kingdom, she realizes she may not have left her Mennonite roots and her faith as firmly in the past as she thought. She draws on the support of Noah Housler, an old friend, as she hides out and attempts to plan her next steps.

When it becomes painfully clear that the danger has followed Lizzie to Kingdom, suspicions and tensions run high, and she no longer knows who to trust. With her life and the lives of those she loves at risk, Lizzie will have to run one last time–to a Father whose love is inescapable.”

While I was reading Inescapable, and still after, I have mixed feelings about the book. While there is a great deal of Christian fiction centered on the Amish, this is the first I’ve read about Mennonites, and I think that was part of the draw for me.

I found myself more drawn in by the story itself than by the Mehl’s writing, or character development. The story in and of itself was interesting- Lizzie is practically run off from her job, is dealing with a stalker, and ends up returning to the town that rejected her. But what frustrated me was the weaknesses in the character development, and the loopholes the author left hanging open. Lizzie, the protaganist and for the most part, our narrator, was a bit one note. It felt like occasionally, the author slipped from first person to a  third person narrative, mainly to give us information to move the plot forward.

As for the loopholes in the plot, I found myself asking questions like, “Why did she just run from her problems at work? Why didn’t she confide in any of her friends there?” And “Did she leave her faith behind?”

Even with my criticisms, particularly with regards to character development, I still found myself connecting with Lizzie in an odd way. I understood her anger and the struggle she faced in regards to her relationship with her father. Mehl did a surprisingly good job of showing how anger, when it builds inside, can come flowing out in unexpected, and often painful ways. The antidote to that anger is forgiveness, but its not always as neat and clean as it was in this story. It’s a process, at times, a very messy process. But, as we see in the story, there is still hope.

I would give Inescapable two stars. I will probably not continue the series, but I am sorry I picked up the first one. If nothing else, it gave me food for thought.


Review: The Fourth Fisherman

Initially, I picked up The Fourth Fisherman by Joe Kissack because the story intrigued me. Three fisherman are stranded at sea for nine months, eating what they can catch, and reading Scripture to sustain them. The story sounded phenomenal.

Intertwined with that story was Kissack’s own story of coming to faith. He had everything, but still found himself lacking something. And eventually, he discovered all he needed in the Scripture.

I admit, both loved this book and found myself confused by it. It made me both irritated and anxious for more at the same time. I am not sure that I completely agree with the assessment of someone from the audience, who heard the stories, and told that Joe that he was, “…telling the story wrong.” (p.188). While both Joe’s story and the story of the fishermen were incredibly powerful, it seemed that combining them into one book weakened both. Both stories in the volume seem so undeveloped.

Without intending to in anyway undermine Kissack’s story, I found his writing to be reflective of the time he spent with therapists, counselors, and pastors. There was such an amazing transformation in his life, but in telling the story, it was bogged down with phrases that come out of guided self reflection. I wasn’t convinced that it was his voice speaking, but rather, it felt like the voice of others.

I would have loved to hear more from the fishermen themselves, even if it was only interviews tucked into an addendum at the end. Do they still think about that time? What was the most difficult part of their time on the open ocean? How did they communicate with their Taiwanese rescuers? So many questions that remain unanswered.

Overall, I found the Fourth Fisherman to be a story of hope, inspiration and faith. I give it three stars.

*Please note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for a fair and honest review.

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