Alice Fergusom had a very rough youth. She has had a promiscuous life. And she has finally made a success of herself, establishing an online Hollywood insider tabloid. She has a one night stand with a sports doctor from Nashville and gets pregnant. She decides not to abort the baby (for reasons revealed in the novel) but her health deteriorates. Burton, the sports doctor father of the child, offers to have her come live with him. So she takes a leave from her high-pressure world to live with a man she barely knows. She gets to know the African-American pastor next door and loves the cooking of his wife. After months of enjoying their friendship, she finally agrees to attend a church service.
This is somewhat a typical story line – promiscuous girl is given the opportunity to meet Jesus. An interesting aspect of the novel is sports. Burton is the doctor for the Titans and the next door pastor played in the NFL. We also learn a bit about the tabloid world and the lengths some go to get dirt.
I found that a few aspects of the novel were troublesome. The back story is told through flashbacks. Having read books on novel construction, I know that flashbacks are difficult to do correctly and are somewhat to be avoided if possible. Cecil's book is full of flashbacks. When Alice is sitting on the back pew in church, we spend pages and pages going back. Sometimes it is years and sometimes it is only a few months. I think it detracts from the novel.
The other aspect I found troublesome is the openness of Alice's promiscuous life. While there were no graphic descriptions of her sexual escapades, there was a scene that I think was too much. Alice and her partner, Amos, are celebrating the dirt they have exposed on various Hollywood stars. It was just an ugly scene I think was unnecessary.
Also, Burton is a Christian, I think, when he has that one night stand while at the conference in Los Angeles. As I recall, there was no remorse on his part for that action noted in the novel. While he is a good figure in wanting to marry Alice and raise their child, it still troubles me some that the issue was not dealt with.
There are several good things about the novel. It is a graphic picture of how Jesus can save a life. It deals well with race relations and how God worked through the lives of the pastor and his wife to draw Alice to Jesus. And Burton is another hero, loving this woman he met so briefly, yet fell in love with.
So, there are good things and troublesome things within this novel. There is an extended discussion guide at the end of the novel as well as suggestions for reading groups to enhance their experience with this novel.
Carrie Gerlach Cecil creates literary, television, film and online content to transform people's hearts and minds. She has written a previous novel, Emily's Reasons Why Not, and a children's book with her daughter as co-author. She is also the founder and president of a media strategy firm. She is an in demand speech writer, executive and corporate image coach. Carrie and her husband, former Pro Bowl Safety, former Tennessee Titans Defensive Coordinator and current St. Louis Rams Defensive Back's coach, were college sweethearts and spend much of their time working with several charities. They split their time between California, St, Louis and Tennessee. They have an eight year old daughter. Find out more at http://www.carriegerlachcecil.com
Howard Books, 288 pages. Visit the publisher's product page to read the first chapter.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review. The opinions expressed are my own.