July/August 2016 Books of the Month: The Atonement Child by Francine Rivers and Brush of Wings by Karen Kingsbury

Once again, I fall behind with choosing, and discussing, my book of the month choices. Since I was unable to post for July due to being on vacation and not finishing in time, you all get a double post to make up for it!! My choice for August is also included here.

Two different kinds of novels. One centered on the controversial topic of abortion and main protagonist Dynah Carey’s rape, the other the conclusion to the Angels Walking series and the heart condition of Mary Catherine Clark.

There is a reason I chose to spotlight these two besides their content and some of the reviews I saw fellow readers leave on Goodreads, Amazon and my Mom’s thoughts after she read Brush of Wings. The biggest reason was my response to them. We have all read books we truly love or completely hate.

Then there is the 50/50 part, some parts you enjoy and some you don’t.

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Credit: Image from Amazon.com

With The Atonement Child, I felt the urge to put the book down after reading the first three chapters. It wasn’t because of the writing. From reading other previous books from Francine Rivers–sharing the last name is mere coincidence!–I knew her books were not only excellent, but also challenged your thinking and perceptions. I previously read her series A Lineage of Grace and most recent book Bridge to Haven. 

For those unfamiliar with the book, Atonement Child is about college student Dynah Carey who has a wonderful fiance she’ll soon marry, is the beloved daughter of wonderful parents and is faithful to God. When she is raped one night, her perfect world shatters and everything from love, her education, family and more begins to suffer because of it. The saddest and most difficult part besides the controversy of abortion is ending up pregnant by her rapist, which opens up some secrets within her family, including from her mother, Hannah.

Again, the difficult topic of abortion and the response from Dynah’s fiance, Ethan, her school and the pain left behind bothered me most about this book. I haven’t studied this issue very closely but I do understand the reasons why abortion is controversial. So, to me this book is quite relevant as this debate over a woman’s right to choose continues in our country. But, sometimes I wish I knew more information because of how some reviews had questions about the portrayals in the story. We all know people will react positively or negatively in a passionate way, especially around sensitive topics like this. But, to me, Atonement Child gave me a better understanding of the controversy no matter how difficult it was to swallow.

The best part of the story? Dynah’s friend and Ethan’s best friend, Joe. His character, compassion and selfless love for Dynah carried the story through and really highlighted what I believe is someone who not only understands, but chooses to be there for someone and let HER decide instead of making the decision for her. If anything, Joe’s character gave me hope and the subplot around Dr. Wyatt and his struggle at his medical practice highlighted the struggle we sometimes feel. But I admit there were some characters that made me want to throw the book against the wall. If you read the book yourself you might see who I’m referring to.

Would I still recommend this book despite my struggle with reading it? Depends. If it’s a very sensitive topic for you, I wouldn’t unless you feel comfortable giving it a try. But, if you want to be challenged, feel hope and better understand these sensitive topics, then it’s worth a shot. It was still a good read, but it really depends on your feelings and views on the subject. Either way, it was worth reading.

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Credit: Image from Amazon.com

Brush of Wings, meanwhileis the conclusion to Karen Kingsbury’s Angels Walking series centering around the angels that walk among us and, sometimes, work in our lives to make sure God’s work comes to fruition or even give second chances. I would definitely recommend reading the first two books, Angels Walking and Chasing Sunsets before reaching for the third to understand what’s happening in this book. Like my comments with The Atonement Child, there were some things I wish were different, but overall this was still a great read.

Here, we have the relationships between baseball player Tyler Ames and his love, Sami Dawson, and her roommate Catherine Clark and Tyler’s best friend and fellow baseball player Marcus Dillinger reach a critical point for the Angels Walking team. We also see the return of troubled teen Lexy Jones, Coach Wayne and other beloved characters from the entire series. By this time, Mary Catherine chooses to live her life as she’s dying from a heart condition and fulfill her dream of helping at an orphanage in Uganda. She also submits to the fate of never having children one day, or a future with Marcus.

Meanwhile, Tyler proposes to Sami while she tries to figure out what’s going on with her best friend, maintain her volunteer work at the youth center Marcus helped open in the second book and her growing concerns for Lexy when she doesn’t come by. Marcus is also trying to understand what is up with Mary Catherine and struggling to let go of her once she leaves for Uganda and his rampant feelings for her that won’t go away. In the mix of all these emotions, secrets and heartaches, the Angels Walking team has to work overtime to keep these relationships together and make sure a baby boy that will change many lives and bring many back to God will be born (see the first two books).

Like Joe with Atonement Child, the character development and growing maturity of Lexy Jones caught my attention in this story. She is first introduced in Chasing Sunsets as the reluctant lover of a gang leader struggling with the lost relationship between her and her mother and trying to find hope and escape from the gang life. Lexy’s feelings for escape and comfort in God are rampant again in this book, leading to more consequences Lexy cannot get herself out of. If anything, the conclusion of her story is the standout in the entire book and leaves you cheering and relieved. With the main relationships in the story, though, I wanted to pull my hair at Mary Catherine’s stubbornness and the others not being persistent with finding answers, and cheer when things were finally coming together for the couples.

I still felt, overall, this was a great conclusion to the series and a happy ending for the characters involved. I found the first two better, but the third is still just as good and wonderful as any of Karen Kingsbury’s past books :). If you want to check out her books, you have quite the treasure trove to choose from! From the Baxter Family series to stand-alone pieces like The Chance, Fifteen Minutes and more, you have quite a selection to choose from! Francine Rivers also has a variety from her famous novel Redeeming Love to Sons of Encouragement and many others!!

Just remember, even if there’s one book you weren’t too crazy about but still love, there are many more you will love even more!

If you want to learn more about Francine Rivers, here’s the link to her website: http://francinerivers.com/

If you want to learn more about Karen Kingsbury, here’s the link to her website: http://www.karenkingsbury.com/