My Hands Came Away Red – by Lisa McKay (2007)

My Hands Came Away Red

What do you do when you’re 18, aren’t sure that you want to get more serious about your boyfriend, and haven’t a clue what to do with your life? You go on a mission trip. Cori commits to a ten-week assignment with a team of young people going to an island in Indonesia to help construct a church. First comes boot camp, to help the team learn the customs, language, and physical hardships of the task and area they will be going to.

Then it’s off to the island. The work is hard, but rewarding. They not only finish the construction project, but build close friendships with some of the islanders. Everything seems perfect – until the day that a conflict between differing religious groups boils over. At that point, the only option for the team is to run for their lives.

This book, although fictional, had an intensely real feel to it. It’s almost as if the author has lived the story, or is close to someone who went through a similar experience. The flavor of the book seemed like a cross between a couple other books I’ve read in the last few years – “If We Survive” by Andrew Klavan
https://alwaysreading1.wordpress.com/2014/04/21/if-we-survive-by-andrew-klavan-2012/ and “Tomorrow When The War Began” by John Marsden.
This book had it all – great characters, deep friendships, lots of action, psychological terror, and spiritual struggle. I would highly recommend this novel to readers of almost any age.

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The Great Good Thing – by Andrew Klavan (2016)

the-great-good-thing

Andrew Klavan has written nearly three dozen books, most of them mysteries or psychological thrillers. Two of his novels, “Don’t Say A Word” and “True Crime”, were made into Hollywood movies. In 2009, he began writing young adult/teen fiction. Although I didn’t care much for his earlier novels, some of his later novels were outstanding – “If We Survive”, “Crazy Dangerous”, and “The Last Thing I Remember”.  I remember being puzzled by the difference between his books that had too much language and objectionable content for me to finish reading, and other books that I could hardly put down and were clean reads.

This book is Andrew Klavan’s auto-biography, and by the end of the book I understood why his more recent books were so different from his earlier ones. In “The Great Good Thing”, the author describes his childhood and adolescence in great detail. Outwardly, the Klavans were an upscale Jewish family living in a nice suburban neighborhood who looked perfect. But it was all a facade. Andrew and his father clashed constantly, the father criticizing everything Andrew did. The father also demanded that he become a devout Jew, and Andrew retaliating by becoming an atheist. As an adult, he experienced severe depression and a lack of meaning in life, even after he fell in love and married.

It took many years for Andrew to accept the possibility that there really was a God, and that God cared about him personally. But the spark of faith was there, and it slowly grew. After years of soul-searching and prayer, he decided to follow Jesus and was baptized.

This biography was hard to read in places, especially where he described in great detail how worthless and depressed he felt. It was very deep and analytical. He seemed to be stuck in a downward spiral that he couldn’t get out of. But the fact that he now has such a different life is a testimony to the power of Jesus and his love. This is a story worth reading.

 

 

 

The Experiment – by Todd Temple (1998)

The Experiment.jpg

Matt Chen and Tina Lockhart share a World Religions high school class.. Other than that, they have absolutely nothing in common. Tina is traditional and of the Christian faith; Matt is alternative/eclectic and an atheist. During the Christianity unit of the semester class, the teacher offers an extra-credit assignment: try doing what Jesus would do for two weeks, and see if it’s even possible to do. Matt and Tina are the only students who take her up on the challenge.

Tina takes the challenge because she thinks it will be an easy way to show her faith, and Matt does it because he needs to pull up his class grade. Neither one anticipates how difficult it will be. By the end of the two weeks, both of them have a whole new perspective on life.

As I read this slim book for the second time (I read it about 15 years ago), I was again reminded that a life of following Jesus is not an easy life. Jesus didn’t have a trouble-free life here on earth, and none of us can expect life to go smoothly either. But walking in His footsteps gives us peace inside that we can’t get anywhere else. He’ll walk with us through every trial and never leave us or forsake us. You can count on that.