An archive of this Sojourner's Journey – Reflections, book reviews, and other random thoughts

Book Review: Send Down The Rain

About the Book:

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Mountain Between Us comes a new, spellbinding story of buried secrets, lost love, and the promise of second chances.

Allie is still recovering from the loss of her family’s beloved waterfront restaurant on Florida’s Gulf Coast when she loses her second husband to a terrifying highway accident. Devastated and losing hope, she shudders to contemplate the future—until a cherished person from her past returns.

Joseph has been adrift for many years, wounded in both body and spirit and unable to come to terms with the trauma of his Vietnam War experiences. Just as he resolves to abandon his search for peace and live alone at a remote cabin in the Carolina mountains, he discovers a mother and her two small children lost in the forest. A man of character and strength, he instinctively steps in to help them get back to their home in Florida. There he will return to his own hometown—and witness the accident that launches a bittersweet reunion with his childhood sweetheart, Allie.

When Joseph offers to help Allie rebuild her restaurant, it seems the flame may reignite—until a 45-year-old secret from the past begins to emerge, threatening to destroy all hope for their second chance at love.

In Send Down the Rain, Charles Martin proves himself to be a storyteller of great wisdom and compassion who bears witness to the dreams we cherish, the struggles we face, and the courage we must summon when life seems to threaten what we hold most dear.

My Thoughts:

I honestly don’t know what to say about this book.  Is Charles Martin a brilliant writer who crafts beautiful sentences and creates vivid scenes?  Yes.  Did this book keep me turning page after page? Yes.  Did Martin craft a story that was in many ways an unpredictable mystery?  Yes.  Did I like the book?  I’m not sure that I did.

Spoiler Alert….

Any author who introduces you to a character and kills him off again all in the first chapters of writing is a bold author.  In the early stages of the book the artistry of mixing together so many fragmented stories show Martin’s genius for crafting a tale.  It was the content of the tale that left me unsatisfied.

The only other novel I have read by Martin is “Long Way Gone,” which I loved.  In it I saw the beauty of the gospel clearly in the heart of the father.  This book held a significant message in regard to the power of choosing love or hate and the beauty of second chances and yet it was still a messy muddle of contradictions.  In all truth, the way that grace, justice, good and evil play out in each one of our lives is a messy muddle at times.  The thing is, the gospel isn’t a muddle and in this story it wasn’t clear.  In fact, I put the book down with a sense that I was supposed to give grace to Joseph (and others), because of what life had made (required) of them rather than because they (and all of us) are in need of the blood and mercy of Christ.  I felt like I was supposed to root for Joseph because he had a good heart, when in fact he was as full of evil as all of mankind (and not simply because of what he had endured in life).  And while we see a glimpse of the idea of substitutionary atonement in the life of two brothers, in the end, the redemption of Joseph’s life didn’t feel anything like real redemption.  “You are not condemned” is robbed of its power when the verdict is given due to your character, actions or efforts outweighing your evil, rather than being given by the pure mercy of another. I did appreciate the way that Joseph  was able to find freedom from self-condemnation, but it just wasn’t enough to make it a satisfying story.

If this hadn’t been sent to me by a Christian publisher and marketed as a Christian novel I would have just said, it’s a moving story that has hints of redemption in it.  But as I have higher expectations for a book that is promoted as having an author who is writing from the framework of the gospel I found myself disappointed.

I was sent a free galley of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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