Earlier this week I received a rather interesting email from Goodreads.
According to my logs, I have read:
with a 2.88 average rating
That rating is not very good. I’ve read a few amazing books this year but a slew of books that I determined weren’t really worth reading. The second half of the year will be better than the first half, right?
One of the books I accepted for review has slightly boosted that average rating.
Anything by Dee Henderson is almost guaranteed to be a four star read and this book was no exception. I believe I have read all of Henderson’s books and this one was fantastic. What makes it so unique is that the entire book takes place after Shannon escapes from her kidnappers. She seeks out Matthew, a private investigator, and slowly shares her story with him as they both attempt to right wrongs that have taken place over the last twenty or thirty years. I really appreciated how this story unfolded as Shannon and Matthew use the information she provides to track down the kidnappers so that justice can be served.
As I read the story, I was surprised to find something that may help with my parenting. We are traveling next week to adopt a 13 year old girl who has had a history of loss. She lost both her parents at an early age and now she’s losing her birth country, her caretakers, her language, and everything else that is familiar to her. We will be doing our best to help her feel safe and loved from day one but I am sure she will eventually share stories with us that will break our hearts. In the novel, Matthew is offered some advice about how to best help Shannon as she shares her very emotional history. He is told, “But I’d stay with the basic three rules – listen, try not to react, and keep your reply at the same emotional tone she sets” (59).
This advice really makes sense to me. When my daughter shares something emotional from her history, I have to first listen to her. Truly listen. I have to try not to react to the story she shares because otherwise I may unintentionally discourage her from sharing more details. And I need to respond with the same emotional tone she uses to share. I don’t want to burst into tears if she matter of factly drops an alarming detail while we’re playing a game. If that happens, she may feel that she’s a burden or that I cannot handle what she’s sharing.
In a later section of the book, Shannon shares some of how she feels about God. She attempts to answer the age old question of why God allows suffering. I thought her explanation was rather insightful.
He did [allow the kidnapping]. And I wondered for a time if God still loved me… I’d like a featherbed world where falling out of a tree didn’t break a bone, where a guy couldn’t land a blow on someone smaller than himself, where no one ever got to touch me without my consent. That’s the world I would have created. But God decided to create a world where free will was more important than no one ever getting hurt. There must be something stunningly beautiful and remarkable about free will that only God can truly grasp, because God hates, literally abhors, evil, yet He created a world where evil could happen if people chose it. God sees something in free will and choice that’s worth tolerating the horrifying blackness that would appear if evil was chosen rather than good. I find that utterly remarkable…
God gave Adam and Eve that free will and a choice. He gave them one warning: eat of any tree that is here, including the wonderful tree of life, but don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. I wish Adam and Eve had thought more about what knowledge meant. … But how do you really know something? You experience it. … The sad thing about evil, we did this to ourselves. It wasn’t God’s plan. God expected, fully intended, for Adam and Eve to obey what He had said, to leave the tree of good and evil alone. We’re Adam and Eve’s children, reaping their decision. We chose the knowlege – the experience of good and evil – and we found out just how bitter and dark evil really is. We experience it now. That’s our reality. There’s probably not a person alive who wouldn’t want to go back and see that decision changed, now that we have tasted how bad it turned out to be. My faith survived because I realized God didn’t want this for us, He never had (107-109).
Definitely a thought provoking summary of free will.
I am so glad that I accepted this book for review. My only complaint with the novel, and it’s a flaw that I feel runs throughout Henderson’s books, is that the characters are too perfect. They have challenges, yes. Bad things happen to them. But overall, they handle life perfectly. Even when they make a mistake, they bounce back immediately and learn deep, valuable life lessons that they are able to apply from that moment forward.
Still, it was a fantastic read and I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to read and review Taken. Many thanks to Bethany House for the opportunity. All thoughts are my own!