For a lot of years, Francine Rivers' books have been among my favorite Christian fiction books. I have deeply enjoyed reading them. I have several of them on my shelf and they are among the few books that I have reread over the years. I usually only read a book once. Her new book, Bridge to Haven, however, is different than the others. I am glad I didn't purchase it and instead checked it out from our local library.
The story centers on Abra, a baby found by the river by a local pastor, Zeke. For five years, she is raised by him and his wife, Marianne, with their son, Joshua. The book tells Abra's story of growing up. I don't want to give away any of the plot and details in case you do read it, which makes it difficult to write this review.
My issues with this book are different than what other reviewers have said.
My first issue is with Zeke's taking Abra home. I don't understand how it is wrong that he took her home. This part was quite confusing to me. His wife wanted her in their home. She had peace about it. Did he or didn't he? I think he vascillated, but he acknowledges that the other family wasn't ready to have another baby to take care of right then. How he discusses this later with Abra doesn't jive to me. It seems to be contradictory.
My second issue is when Zeke leaves his wife's room (he is a pastor!) and sees Abra in the hall. He said something that will scar her for life--honestly, it would scar anyone for life. He wondered if she'd heard it, but doesn't talk to her about it. Then, she's given to another family where she overhears several conversations about how "they just don't know what they're going to do about her". Yet, the characters don't understand why she doesn't trust anyone... why she closes herself off... really??? They should have asked--which they never do! As a believer (which all of these characters were), they should have asked and cared.
Another issue I had was the unrealistic portrayal of what happens when a woman who has a brutal sexual history enters a healthy relationship. No, it is not suddenly okay. I have had several friends in this situation and usually--it takes years to form a healthy sexual relationship with their spouse.
Lastly, I was a bit surprised by how graphic Rivers was when it cames to the sexually intimate scenes. Though she is a "romance" writer, I have never scene her as such. She is one author I have upheld in my mind as portraying romance as a part of life, but not the center and I haven't felt like she went towards the Harlequin genre... until now. This book is more of a romance than her previous books (and more graphic about it) and that turned me off.
I still love Rivers other books, but I don't think I'll be reading this one again.