My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Chase and Keith are moviemakers. They were once missionaries together in Indonesia, but God has called them to make life-changing movies for the world today. Now, they are getting the opportunity to make the very first one, but where there is great opportunity for God’s work there is also great opposition. Will they get the movie made or will the the crew strike, the cast fall apart or Chase or Keith give into various Hollywood temptations?
This was an excellent book. It’s considered part of the Baxter series, but it focuses on a whole new cast of characters. The Baxters that appear in this novel all are non point-of-view characters, and the only remaining POV characters from the past books are Bailey and Cody. This makes the novels feel like something fresh and new, and not just a continuation of the same old storylines that Kingsbury has been rehashing over the past 14 books. It’s a beautiful transition.
Even better, the story is interesting on its own merits. Chase and Keith’s families are interesting, their quest to make their film is interesting, Keith’s daughter Andi is interesting, and even Bailey’s character is much more interesting than in the Sunrise series. I really liked this book.
As always with the Baxter books, I will take a quick look at all the point of view characters. There are a million storylines going on in these books at once, so it’s just easier this way. There will probably be spoilers in this look, so read ahead at your own risk.
Chase: He’s a young man, someone who was a missionary, and now finds himself directing a film. The long separations from his wife take a toll on him in the book, but he does an admirable job in resisting on-set temptation. He’s not the optimist of the book. He’s the realist who worries about God’s provision, but finds that God always comes through and that his steps of faith are rewarded.
Keith: He’s the more experienced man with a mature and vibrant marriage. He and his wife have one college aged daughter who gives them fits with her sudden rebellion, but he’s always hopeful. He’s patient and calm and helps balance out Chase’s rougher edges. They make good partners, and it’s excellent to see how committed he is to having everything about the production go above the line.
Bailey: Bailey’s in college now and has decided to live in the dorm, even though the dorm is only a few minutes from her home. It helps her to have some independence and to make new friends in school. She is still dating Tim Reed but she’s very confused about her feelings, especially as Cody keeps hanging out just at the fringes of her life. She’s roommates with Keith Ellison’s daughter, and Bailey is a nice character who has a solid faith and sense of self. It’s interesting to also see her handling the jealousy of having a roommate who is prettier and more talented than her, but who also is her friend.
Andi: Andi is a freshman in college, and the daughter of a missionary. She spent most of her growing up years in the jungle of Indonesia. When the Ellison’s relocated to the US, she went to a Christian high school and made a best friend who she dreamed of going through life with. Only that friend died senselessly in a car accident. Andi, still devastated by the loss of her best friend, is beginning to question God’s existence and plan for her life. She just doesn’t know what the truth is anymore, and she’s ready to find out how non-Christians live. It just seems so much more interesting to live with a little danger in her life. She puts herself in some ill-advised situations. She gets drunk at a frat party. She nearly gets raped twice because of the stupid situations she puts herself into with men. She manages to come out okay because of either dumb luck or God’s protection. I’m not even sure which! LOL She is sorry for what has happened, but I don’t think she is truly repentant in a way that will bring her back to God . . . at least not yet.
Lisa: Lisa is Keith’s life and Andi’s mother. She makes friends with Ashley Baxter and Ashley helps them have a prayer vigil during some of the worst trouble in the shoot. Lisa is supportive, prayerful and an excellent wife to Keith. She helps on the set, tries to connect with her daughter and does all the things that a virtuous wife should do.
Cody: He wants to be involved in Bailey’s life. He wants to be friends, but with his attraction to her, he finds himself pulling in and out of her life in a way that is completely frustrating to them both. He struggles with how to be a part of her life but not to date her because of his feelings of unworthiness. I hope he gets over that before too long because he’s cheating himself out of what could be a great relationship.
Kelly: Chase’s wife spends most of the book back home caring for their preschool age daughters. She tries to be supportive but she finds herself resentful of the time that he spends away from their family and she finds herself fearful of the outcome to their family if things go wrong. I can relate. She does have some shining moments, and her visit to the set to be with Chase for the weekend was also quite nice.
All in all, this book was an excellent way to start a new series, and I look forward to continuing to read 🙂