It's been a while since I've picked up a Christian fiction book, mostly because -- as happens with any genre -- my favorite authors haven't been writing much, and I haven't had much luck with most of the authors I've picked up. Plus, as I've mentioned before, my reading tastes have developed to a place where I value story before message and Christian fiction is a genre in which not every author writes that way (which is not bad! just not usually my particular cup of tea these days).
Anyway, I was at the library and came across Bridge to Haven by Francine Rivers on the new book shelf. It's been a while since I've read anything by Francine Rivers, and while I do remember that her books are very much about the message, I also remember really enjoying them. So I picked it up.
Bridge to Haven is a story about self-worth, and the lengths at which people often go to find it. It's about love, family, and forgiveness. Abra is abandoned under a bridge on the day she's born, and taken in by the family of a local pastor. Pastor Zeke's wife Marianne dies while Abra is still very young, and Zeke decides to let another family adopt Abra because he doesn't think he and his 12 year old son Joshua can take care of her well enough by themselves. Of course, 5 year old Abra doesn't understand, and spends many years felling abandoned, second-best, and blaming herself for Mama Marianne's death. She builds walls between herself and her new family, only allowing herself to open up with her piano teacher Mitzi and with Joshua. When a smooth-talking, handsome, and glamorous young man comes into town, 16-year old Abra runs off with him. She quickly realizes that what he's offering isn't exactly everything she imagined, but her pride and self-doubt keep her from returning home. Several years later, Abra -- now known as Lena Scott -- is a rising movie star, and hates every second of it. Joshua is a Korean War veteran building homes in Haven, and one of the many people who pray every day for some word from Abra, some sign that she's okay or better yet, coming home. Despite hitting dead end, after dead end in a search for Abra, a series of seemingly random circumstances finally bring Joshua and Abra together again.
I didn't love Bridge to Haven, but I did enjoy it. Rivers writes very compelling characters, and I kept reading to find out what happened to them. My primary complaint is that I think Rivers' somewhat heavy-handed message kept her from exploring more with the side characters. Joshua was the most fleshed out secondary character, and I think his role in the story kept him a little too perfect and a little too one note. We did get to read some about his experiences in war and his difficulty adjusting back home, but just a touch more of that would have made Joshua a richer character and a little less "too perfect."
Bottom line: if you're in the mood for well-written Christian fiction with a strong message, an interesting story, and compelling characters, you can't go wrong here.