Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Bridge to Haven by Francine Rivers

About the Book:

To those who matter in 1950s Hollywood, Lena Scott is the hottest rising star to hit the silver screen since Marilyn Monroe. Few know her real name is Abra. Even fewer know the price she’s paid to finally feel like she’s somebody.

To Pastor Ezekiel Freeman, Abra will always be the little girl who stole his heart the night he found her, a wailing newborn abandoned under a bridge on the outskirts of Haven. Zeke and his son, Joshua—Abra’s closest friend—watch her grow into an exotic beauty. But Zeke knows the circumstances surrounding her birth etched scars deep in her heart, scars that leave her vulnerable to a fast-talking bad boy who proclaims his love and lures her to Tinseltown.

Hollywood feels like a million miles from Haven, and naive Abra quickly learns what’s expected of an ambitious girl with stars in her eyes. But fame comes at an awful price. She has burned every bridge to get exactly what she thought she wanted. Now, all she wants is a way back home.

In this riveting and highly anticipated tale of temptation, grace, and unconditional love, New York Times best-selling author Francine Rivers delivers big-canvas storytelling at its very best.

My Thoughts:

If this reads like a mixed bag review, it's probably because I'm not sure how I feel about this new book from one of my all time favorite Inspirational authors.  Francine has crafted another sweeping redemptive story, but the path to redemption is a very, very bumpy road in "Bridge to Haven".

I connected quickly with the tiny baby girl left under the "Bridge to Haven", despite disliking her name with a passion (Abra).  Still, when she was loved, I felt that love.  When she felt rejected and lost, I empathized with her deeply.  My childhood was peppered with confusion and feelings of abandonment that ultimately were figments of my imagination, just as Abra's were.

But feelings are feelings, and if they aren't dealt with honestly and quickly, those feelings give birth to resentment and rebellion.  It's that rebellion in Abra that took me to places I just didn't want to go.  From the moment she ran off with Dylan, I was ready to put the book down and walk away.  Uncomfortable, saddened, fearful....what I felt as I read that portion of the book.

Instead of returning to Haven, Abra moves from one destructive relationship right into another one.  It seemed safer than the first, but in the end was even more destructive.  Again, I wanted to toss the book aside.  Her life with Franklin evoked memories for me that I have no desire to revisit (please don't misunderstand me--my rebellion looked like child's play next to Abra's...but the emotions were like identical twins to mine.)

As I watched Abra come to a portion of her senses and escape her own personal hell, and watched the hand of God in her life, moving her through disaster after disaster to her one hope of redemption and forgiveness, I felt rewarded for suffering along with her all those years on the run from herself and her God.

It's the last few chapters of the book that I must warn readers of...and yes, the first two thirds of the book will leave you unsettled and uncomfortable.  This ain't your Momma's Christian romantic fiction!  Abra has known false love for so long, Francine takes extra care to show the reader what genuine love and marital intimacy really is.

But it does get a bit more graphic than one would expect.  Nothing like general market romance, but more than your average inspirational market romance.  It may leave you feeling a bit uncomfortable, but the comparison between what Abra ran to and what she came home to is night and day, and what Francine writes is truly what true love and intimacy is all about.

Just not sure if it might be too much for some readers.  Let me just leave it this way: this is NOT a book for a young girl, and if you are faint of heart or squeamish, it might not set well with you either.  But the writing is of the same caliber as Francine's epic novels such as "Redeeming Love", and her "Mark of the Lion Trilogy".

My thanks to the Tyndale House Publishing for my copy of "Bridge to Haven" in exchange for an honest review.  I do recommend it, but with caution.  If you feel you can handle going where Abra goes, then you won't be disappointed by her full journey.

Oh, one more thing...the ending feels a bit unfinished, but no word on a sequel.  And the best writing always leaves you wanting to know more about the fictional lives you're now invested in.

Happy Reading!



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