W Publishing Group, a Division of Thomas Nelson, Inc, Nashville, TN, 2002. ISBN 0849943019.
Reviewed by Lisa Shirah-Hiers
Posted on 03/08/2004
Too often, genre fiction is poorly written and trite. Covenant Child, a work of Christian fiction, is neither. Blackstock's carefully woven plot, realistic twists and turns, and deep understanding of human frailties, psychology and motivations make this a compelling read, whatever your chosen faith.
The story is told by Kara, a headstrong and embittered young woman as different from her twin sister, Lizzie as it is possible to be. The two were snatched from their stepmother, Amanda, after their father's untimely death, to be raised by their greedy grandparents, Deke and Eloise. Even as youngsters, it is obvious to the girls that Deke and Eloise are only after the fortune Kara and Lizzie will inherit when they turn 18.
In spite of the fact that Deke and Eloise are blood relations—the parents of Kara and Lizzie's mother who died when the girls were very young—they show no affection at all for their grandchildren, locking them in the closet when they cry, squandering their generous $300,000 annual annuity at the casino, and leaving them to feed, cloth and raise themselves in a squalid trailer.
The horror of Deke and Eloise's treatment of the children is palpable throughout the book. Still, Blackstock manages to avoid graphic excess, hinting at more than she tells. Kara's poor choices, including an unwanted pregnancy and subsequent abortion are utterly realistic. In spite of Kara's defects, the reader can't help being drawn to her, and feeling desperate for her to let go of the past and embrace the stepmother who never stopped loving her.
Kara's stubborn refusal to believe Amanda has been fighting for her all through her life and safeguarding her inheritance is utterly realistic at the same time that it is often frustrating. When, after her eighteenth birthday, Lizzie does choose to live with Amanda, Kara is forced to confront the differences between herself and her sister. She must choose whether she will live her life based on faith and trust like Lizzie, or despair and anger. She is forced to accept the unconditional love that feels so foreign to her.
Kara's dilemma unveils Blackstock's very human theme: it is often more difficult to embrace love and forgiveness than to accept it. Whether or not you take that as a metaphor for Christian doctrine about the love of God, you will be caught up in Kara's story.
After a successful career, with 3.5 million books in print, Terri Blackstock decided never to writer another book unless it "glorified the Lord." Her total output of over twenty-five novels includes mystery/suspense and romance novels, including several bestsellers. Covenant Child was a 2003 finalist for the Christy Award in the "Best Allegory" category.
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