The inspiration for this novel, Rivers says in a Note from the Author, is from Ezekiel 16. There God speaks of His chosen people as an unwanted newborn. He had cared for them and even chose them for his bride. All of this even though they rejected Him.
The main character in the novel is Abra, a newborn baby abandoned under a bridge. Pastor Zeke, on his early morning walk, felt led to go to the bridge and discovered the child. He and his wife took her in and raised her until the wife died. Then Abra was gladly taken in by another family in Haven.
When a teen, Abra fell to the temptation of a flashy playboy. That began a life of hurt and confusion leading all the way to Hollywood. Pastor Zeke and his son Joshua never stopped praying for her, seeking God's hand to move her to return to Haven.
Rivers says that Abra is like so many of us, wounded, confused, chasing happiness where we will never find it. “My prayer," she writes, "is that the story of Zeke, Joshua, and Abra will draw you into a closer relationship with the God who sent His only Son, Jesus, to die for you so that you might live forever in Him.” (462)
I like the premise of the story. It is a prodigal daughter type of narrative. Even while Abra was away seeking something she never would be able to find, those who loved her back in Haven continued to storm heaven for her. The only thing that makes this less than a perfect novel is its length. I felt the story was repetitive and could have been shorter. This is a character driven novel and we do read through much of what the characters were thinking. That aspect of the novel could have been shorter too. I have to admit, I did skim some of the long contemplative passages. Readers who like to immerse themselves in the life of a character will like this novel.
Francine Rivers wrote for the general market from 1976 to 1985. She was born again in 1986 and wrote Redeeming Love as her statement of faith. Since then she has written many best-selling novels in the Christian genre and has won or been nominated for numerous awards. She and her husband live in northern California, have grown children and grandchildren. You can find out more about her and her books at www.francinerivers.com.
Tyndale House Publishers, 468 pages.