It’s not an easy novel to read. One of the main point-of-view characters is a nine-year-old girl with an imaginary friend who, she claims, tells her what is going to happen. Another important character is an elderly man who is saddled with the care of his invalid wife, forgotten by his church family. To complete the story, the author uses the town minister to round out the points of view, contrasting him with the girl’s atheistic father, who is a practicing psychologist. Interesting mix of personalities.
This story is not a romance, or a thriller, it’s a story about faith and faithfilled people—the good, the bad, and even the ugly. The residents of the town consider themselves God-fearing folks, but when the new family leaves a busy city life to move into their midst, the townspeople greet them with suspicion—especially their stuttering daughter. An invisible line is drawn to indicate how far the family can go to fit in. As the newcomers become more acquainted with different individuals, the town’s façade is stripped away, tragedy strikes, and the townspeople are forced to face their shortcomings.
The story could happen anywhere, in any mainstream church, in any community. The leading characters are everyday people and the conflict is not an uncommon one. Some readers may find this book offensive, because they will discover themselves on the wrong side of the imaginary line. Others may identify with the family and nod at the picture the author paints—well-intentioned people getting sidetracked from their original mission, allowing themselves to be absorbed into a clique of judgment, distrust, and lack of compassion.
In the book of Matthew, people ask Jesus when they had seen him sick or imprisoned? He answers: Matthew 25:40-41 (NKJV) “. . .inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these, my brethren, you did it to Me.”
Whoever reads this will not close the book unchanged. Available from Thomas Nelson Publishers and wherever good books are sold.