My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I will confess that I don’t actually like Christian fiction. It’s often too formulaic, and the characters and situations are too contrived. Often, I feel like the faith statements are too shallow, and the whole thing just turns me off. However, my sister and mother have both been in love with a series from Karen Kingsbury for a while, and they kept recommending to me that I read the Baxter books. I would listen to them and find something else to read, but my mother bought me several series of them to try out for Christmas, so I just had to put them on my reading list. (This book will actually be a part of my #vtReadingChallenge as “a book recommended by a family member.”)
Redemption is the first book in the Baxter family saga and it’s the beginning book where we meet the whole family. The protagonist of this book is Kari Baxter Jacobs. The book begins with her husband walking out the door because Kari has discovered his affair. Despite the fact that Kari is still committed to their relationship, Tim wants nothing to do with their marriage. In his mind, he has found a new love and the old love is gone, despite the guilt and the small voice in his head reminding him of his sin. He decided to just drown that voice out with alcohol.
In her pain, Kari moves out of her home and and moves in for a few weeks with her parents. We are introduced to her whole family and to the dynamics between them. (We’re especially introduced to her sister Ashley, who will be the protagonist of the second book in the series.) An old flame also comes back into her life, and she has to make a decision to remaining committed to her marriage or allowing it to slip away. She also has to face an incredible tragedy in her life to overcome (as if her husband’s infidelity isn’t enough!!).
When I started reading the book, I was bothered by the formulaic feel of the writing. I was annoyed at the chapters from the point of view of Tim, who I considered to be very shallow and of low character. I had just finished reading the books of A Song of Ice and Fire, and after reading those, it was difficult to go to a writing style that was, quite frankly, much less beautiful. Yet, by the time I was fifty pages in, I was completely drawn into the story and the character.
I found myself tearing up several times during the book, especially as Kari faces her decision whether to stay in her marriage or to allow herself to reinitiate a relationship with her high school boyfriend. The love that puts duty over personal desire and is not self-seeking is still one that I have difficulty with, so to see her make the choice to commit herself to her marriage, even when it is hard, was something that I found beautiful and heartbreaking for her personal happiness. It reminds me of the lovely Gary Thomas books on marriage (Sacred Marriage & A Lifelong Love) where I was really brought home to the fact that my marriage wasn’t about me and weather I was happy or not (and I am!!). Instead, I was struck again by how much my marriage has to do with my sanctification and my relationship with God. This section is beautifully handled in illustrating both the right decision and the personal pain that it caused.
Kari had already been through so much that I just couldn’t stand it when she had to suffer more hardship before the end of the book. Yet, she still was able to sing “Great is thy Faithfulness” before the end of the book, and that is enough to remember.
Because of the way that this book emotionally moved me and reminded me of the purpose of marriage, I have to give the book five stars. I am going to momentarily pause my list of books to read for the challenge that I am working through and work through some more of the Baxter books because I have so enjoyed the time that I have spent in their world at this point. After all, it’s no good to get back to a reading challenge until I’ve read enough of these books to be ready to move on without worrying about “what’s going on in their world.” 🙂