Monday, December 22, 2014

Book Review: "The Wishing Season"

Denise Hunter has been among my favorite authors for some time now. I always look forward to her new releases, knowing I'll get to enjoy a sweet story. The Wishing Season, her newest release, disappointed me, though. Yes. It was a sweet story. But it pushed the boundaries of Christian fiction too far. If I had a teenage daughter, I wouldn't be comfortable letting her read this book. And, though the book wasn't written for teenagers or young adults, it does carry the label Christian fiction. To me that means that the Christian characters in the book, though human and vulnerable to temptation, should be "role models" for those who read their stories. P.J. and Cole weren't.

When an elderly lady in town offers to give her spacious house to the applicant she finds most worthy, P.J. and Cole both apply. P.J. wants to turn the home into a restaurant/bed and breakfast. Cole wants to turn it into a home for young adults transitioning out of the foster care system. The owner of the house can't decide which applicant has the better idea, so she gives one floor of the home to P.J. for a year and the other to Cole. At the end of that time, she'll see how each of them has done and choose a winner.

The problem is: P.J. and Cole are complete strangers. Both are unmarried. They are now living together. And as the book progresses, they fall in love and can't keep their hands off of each other--while still living in the same house. They never go so far as to sleep together, but they go in and out of each other's bedrooms at all hours of the day and night. And Hunter portrays the situation as totally normal, nothing anyone should be concerned about when, in reality, it's a high-temptation situation that unmarried Christians should avoid. I'm not surprised when secular media uses this tactic, portraying what shouldn't be normal as normal in order to get people to decide that it is normal after all. But I shouldn't find that in a book written for Christians.

On the positive side, I did like Hunter's portrayal of Cole overcoming the great hardships of his life. He was a complex character who learned about changes he needed to make in his opinion of himself. He carried his issues through the story, was hit with a crisis, failed in his response to it, then accepted new insight and made things right. I enjoyed reading about it, though I wish even that would have have had a bit more depth. Hunter told me what went on inside of Cole, but didn't quite convince me it was so.

Thomas Nelson Publishers sent me a complimentary copy of this book for my honest review.

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