PUBLICATION DATE: SEPTEMBER 01, 2012
fter giving all her problems to God and starting her life over in Sandwich, Illinois, it seems like God just can’t give a break for Maddie Buckner. After living in her questionable Tracker and getting fired from her first job within days, she’s determined that Reuben Callahan is going make it up to her for getting her fired. Maddie quickly invades Reuben’s career, family, and if he’s not careful, his heart. The problem with that is he’s almost an engaged man.
I wanted to enjoy this story. I really did. I felt like I was reading a great foundation of a novel, but it needed to be built up more to make it substantial.
I think Maddie’s character was sacrificed by expressing her personality with snarky humor, which paints her as being ungrateful and disrespectful. Understandably, she is very rough around the edges. She grew up in a bad home and witnessed more that she should at a young age. Yet when she opens her mouth and lets a quip fly, I almost root for Reuben to put in her place. If readers were able to witness the scenes of her salvation and when she realizes how harmful her past life was, we would feel more sympathy for her. If we were able to see her stripped bare and truly humble, then we can appreciate how far she’s come to improve herself and possibly forgive her for the way she prods at Reuben.
There are also key scenes that are missing that I think deserve story time. One of Reuben’s struggles through the entire novel is his relationship with his stepfather. Near the end of the story, Maddie calls him out on his unfairness during an argument. We don’t get to see Reuben’s convictions and conversation with his stepfather. As a side comment, he mentions that they had a talk and now everything is hunky dory. As the hero of the story, we need to see this pivotal scene. It also seems unbelievable that through years of resentment only one conversation heals the relationship. Realistically, there should be still a little distrust and awkwardness, which creates more interest and would make the characters more three dimensional.
While key conflicts of the story are developed well enough and move the story along, they get resolved at the very end of the story. I feel like the resolutions are glossed over and almost summarized. For example, Livy’s demise. We don’t get to see when and how Reuben confronts his ex-fiancé and after building up a great dislike for Livy, I for one wanted to see this scene. Too many issues get wrapped up right after one another within the last 30 pages, it speeds up the flow of the story and doesn’t give a proper closure to the novel.
There are a few things that Phillips does get right. The foundation of this story is a lesson on how we need to accept God’s provisions gracefully. Reuben’s family embraces Maddie and gives her the things that even she didn’t know that she needed. Growing up with the wrong crowd in Chicago gives her the instinct to turn her back and try to make it on her own. But Maddie is reminded of Moses and the Israelites and realizes that God provides for his people, whether it’s through miracles or the kindness of strangers.