Thursday, January 11, 2018

Fiction Review: Where We Belong by Lynn Austin

Lynn Austin's "Where We Belong" has compelling Christian themes and interesting characters, but slightly suffers from a rushed ending and a lack of descriptive language. The book is several hundred pages, so the reader expects more from their investment.

Sisters Rebecca and Flora have inherited a large sum of money and a passion for knowledge from their father. These factors eventually lead them to the Sinai desert searching for ancient documents that will prove that the Bible has not been altered over the years. Along the way, Lynn Austin alters course to tell the reader about the girls' past. She also spends two small sections of the book telling the story from the viewpoints of servants Kate and Soren.

The back and forth between time periods provides an opportunity to better get to know the characters, and Austin gives the reader enough to earn her investment. However, Flora comes across as a stick-figure character, too reliant on Rebecca, while I never could decide if Rebecca was helpful or too forward in her demands and manipulation of her sister. Even when Austin gives us an entire section from Flora's perspective, it is difficult to understand her character or to read from Flora's perspective so soon after reading from the perspective of Rebecca's strong personality.

Toward the end of the book, Rebecca develops a romantic relationship with an agnostic, largely driving her quest to find proof for the Bible's reliability. That quest, which provides the outline of the majority of the book, does not lead to much adventure (beyond some trouble with a Bedouin) or discovery, and its conclusion was a bit of a let down. And when Rebecca finally gives the conversion of her beloved to Christianity over to the Holy Spirit, his "aha" moment comes in a quick and unbelievable manner. Perhaps this part of the story would have been best served by saving a section of the book to be told from his perspective, so the reader could know how exactly God prepares his heart for that final moment of realization.

The redemptive and religious themes of the story are woven well, however. I greatly enjoyed the sisters' desire to find God's purpose for their lives and their mantra that only God knows the time our lives will end. Soren and Kate's street backgrounds also lead to happy endings reminiscent of God's own adoption of Christians through Christ.

*Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review.

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