Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Unbalanced and Heavy-Handed

The Atonement Child by Francine Rivers (Tyndale House Publishers, 1997, 375pp.)

Dynah Carey, a college student and devoted Christian, finds her world falling apart after she is raped and made pregnant by an unknown assailant. Her fiancé now sees her as damaged goods and breaks off their engagement, while the college president, seeking to uphold the school’s “abstinence-only” policy, asks her to publicly recount her trauma to prove her innocence, or drop out of school. Her parents’ relationship is torn asunder as her father insists that she have an abortion, while her mother warns her of the consequences. Dynah uses her unshakeable faith as a way to channel her anguish and eventually find peace as she struggles to make her decision. Although Rivers provides a strong argument for the pro-life stance, her tale of faith and endurance fails on a literary level by its author’s crippling lack of subtlety. As Dynah makes her lonesome journey, temptation comes in the form of an overwhelming barrage of abortion-recipients, (her own mother and grandmother included), all of whom deliver conflicting advice. The reader can even predict who will step forward next and confess by the way the prose builds up. The story also suffers from a complete lack of middle ground. Everything is black and white, cut and dry: pro-lifers are good, clean, pious folks whilst pro-choicers are greedy, abuse their children, and all but foam at the mouth. All political views aside, although the publisher claims this story is “balanced,” this reviewer can think of no word further from the truth.

Click on cover for image source.

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