Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

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*****= An all-time favorite
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*        = Good, with reservations



by Karen Kingsbury

with Gary Smalley

Reviewed December 17, 2006.
Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, Illinois, 2002.  369 pages.

A big thank you to my Mom for sending me this series of books.

Gary Smalley admits that this book was written to “illustrate what I believe God teaches about marriage.”  He says, “I’ve written many books about how to restore broken relationships.  But nothing touches the heart, nothing fleshes out the truth quite like a good story.”

The series will feature the Baxter family and their five adult children.  In this book, Kari learns that her professor husband is having an affair with a student.  He wants a divorce.

Kari is, of course, devastated.  The description of the sick feeling in her stomach when she learned the truth really makes the reader feel her pain.  But she decides that she made a commitment to her husband, and she refuses to give him a divorce.  Even though her former boyfriend comes back in town, and everyone seems to think she should “move on.”

Karen Kingsbury does a wonderful job of telling a beautiful, compelling story from this material, but there is a slight taste of a sermon about it.  And when the couple attends a marriage workshop like those offered by the Smalley Relationship Center, it feels like a commercial.

However, it was wonderfully refreshing reading a novel where someone decides to stand for their marriage, and not just give a divorce as soon as her husband asks for one.  A nice change from what so many books and movies tell us or assume.  They didn’t touch the fact that, in most states, he can get a divorce anyway.  I have discovered that under Illinois law, if my husband waits until we have been separated for two years, he can easily get a divorce for “irreconcilable differences.”  It’s going to be a long haul to persevere for all that time without signing papers to hurry things along, but I do believe it’s the right thing to do.  And it was wonderful to read a rare story about someone who did the same thing.

Though I was a bit annoyed by how easily things worked out for her.  She thought a few months of her husband away was a long time!  I’ve heard many stories of reconciled marriages, and many, many “prodigal spouses” do return, but it is much more common for it to take far longer than a few months, especially if they are already having an affair, as hers was.  Of course, in the end, she gets a much too easy solution.  But maybe I feel that way because I so related to her predicament of her husband wanting a divorce—so I didn’t want things to work out so much better for her so much more quickly than they’re working out for me!  In short, I guess I was a bit jealous.  It was a little bit too close to my situation, but her story was much easier than what I’ve see in real life.

However, this is a moving story, told well.  It’s very tricky to tell a story that has a message, but on the other hand it can be refreshing if it’s a good message.  And I have to admit that reading it made me feel much less strange to want to keep my marriage, as well as much less alone.

Copyright © 2006 Sondra Eklund. All rights reserved.

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