I am not a huge fiction fan...
I don't sit around reading tons of fiction books for many reasons. Two of those reasons:
1) My time for reading is limited. If I am going to use my limited time for reading, I want it to be spent on things that are going to be helpful to me!
2) I hate to read things labelled "Christian" fiction that turn out to be carnal, flesh-filled, worldly... I am NOT filling my head with that junk.
So when I come across a Christian fiction book that is worth reading, I like to pass it on. Beyond the Gathering Storm by Janette Oke was such a book.
The book was given to me along with several others by the same author. It started out slow, and there were points where I was concerned where the book might go, but I am glad I stuck around and finished it.
It's about a brother and a sister who pursue relationships.
Now let's park right there and let me explain how picky I am. I don't do "romance" books. You know... those books about wooing and flirting and emotions out of control. Not interested. They aren't about love. They are about self-serving and gratification with no moral benefit to the reader. Yep. I am picky.
But I enjoy relationship books that keep things clean, God-honoring, and have good moral lessons.
So, with that said, this brother and sister pursue very different relationships in very different ways. Both are professing Christians who start out with standards, but one allows those standards to be chipped away in temptation. Compromises here and there. Before you know it, one sibling is snared into a relationship that causes great inner (and outer) conflict. You watch... um, read... the consequences and see the downward spiral. You see the steps that lead to the consequences.
The moral lesson of the book?
2 Corinthians 6:14 "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?"
The book does a great job displaying this truth and the stumbling block of thinking that "we can change them."
Things I loved about the book:
The book kept the "physical" side VERY clean... clean enough that I plan on letting my daughter read it. Literally, when there was kissing, it just said, "They kissed." No details about planting a wet sloppy one. Gag. So nothing there to incite passions that don't need to be awakened.
It showed both sides of the coin... the sibling who looked for the godly character as well as the sibling whose eye was swayed by the glitter of the world.
The ending was exactly what I had hoped for.
It wasn't sappy or chick-flicky!
The book is a great launching point for discussion with teens on what to look for in a potential mate. It is also a great starter for discussing having your standards firmly in place before temptation confronts you!
Things I didn't like about the book:
The Gospel was not clearly presented. It was a social "Go with God" presentation at best.
There was a serious issue with two people being unchaperoned in nonpublic places frequently, AND there was kissing frequently between two unmarried characters. Nothing blatant and gross, but they were not married. If you have a standard against those things, you might want to discuss it with any children who plan on reading the book. I recommend 12 years and older.
I didn't agree much with the decisions of the parents where the daughter was concerned... but that's a whole other story.
The book is definitely a great read and the lesson it teaches made it worth the time.