The Desire by Dan Walsh and Gary Smalley

Allan and Michele have been trying to have children for almost two years. For Allan, who is currently focused on his missions work in Africa, this does not seem like such a long time. For Michele, however, who desires children almost more than anything else, this seems like eternity. As both struggle to communicate the deepest longings within their hearts to one another, they discover they are growing distant in their marriage. Additionally, Michele’s parents find themselves suddenly caring for a single, pregnant female, inviting this young girl to be a part of their family.   As Michele befriends her, she learns much about herself and her wishes for a child. But Allan’s focus on the children in Africa takes a surprising turn. Unexpectedly, both Allan and Michele realize their deepest desires may be for something neither of them had ever anticipated.

The Desire, according to the authors’ notes, is loosely based on true accounts of infertility among Christian couples as well as mission’s work in Africa. This history allows the reader to more fully appreciate the sensitive nature in which the authors handle two delicate issues in today’s culture. However, although the storyline is carefully written, this particular reader found some content to be much too preachy for a fiction novel, perhaps better suited for even a nonfictional account of couples struggling with infertility. Allan’s character is somewhat unlikable, although he redeems himself a bit near the end of the book. The writing style is very simplistic and straightforward; yet some readers may find themselves moved emotionally if this topic is personal. The final few chapters of the book were the best parts of the novel and redeemed its cliché and one-dimensional plotline slightly. Overall, this book is probably best recommended only for those who enjoy reading pastoral accounts of current Christian struggles.

I received a copy of this book from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

What Follows After by Dan Walsh

One fall day in the early 1960’s, young Colt and Timmy Harrison devise a plan to run away from their separated parents to their favorite aunt and uncle’s house.  They hope their drastic act can restore their parents’ relationship and create a happy family once again.  But when Timmy is abducted from a diner a few hours into their journey, Colt suddenly discovers that doing things on his own was not wise.  His parents, Scott and Gina, must work together to find their lost son, and in the process, learn to forgive each other and repair their relationship.  What Follows After is an easy read and moves at a fast pace, allowing the reader to flip the pages quickly to discover if little Timmy will be safely found.  However, the tone of the novel is almost condescending, introducing cliché comments as means to preach ideals necessary to maintain a perfect marriage.  In addition, the topic of a scared little boy locked in a dark place is difficult to read, especially since this situation endures almost the entire novel.  It is a relief to finally read a happy ending of a restored family who learned to value each other despite difficult circumstances.  However, this novel leaves the reader dissatisfied and is only average at best.

I received a copy of this book from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review.