Jul 17, 13
Read from August 31 to September 03, 2012 — I own a copy, read count: 1
The story of a protected, adored virgin being brutally raped and dealing with a resulting pregnancy could not have been an easy story to write. The author did a good job of creating a believable Christian family in crises by allowing us inside their deepest thoughts thereby revealing weakness, doubt, fear, and anger woven with faith, redemption, and hope.
The Atonement Child was an interesting mixture of thoroughly developed characters undergoing intense trauma mixed with a few secondary players that seemed a bit flat. While I'm glad to have read the book I did not love it for a few reasons. I felt it hurried key moments of development in the central character, Dynah. The story spiraled out from her forming a generational anthology introducing us to three generations of women each with their own story of unwanted/inconvenient pregnancy. At times I felt like I'd been wandering in the desert for forty years trying to sort out the timeline. Eventually things snapped back to the current storyline but by midway through it was exuding an almost fairytale like feeling. The story becomes wildly implausible because everything works out seamlessly right down to the tiniest detail but it's presented in a "well, with God all things are possible" kinda way. And, of course, with God all things are possible so perhaps...
Despite the lower points there were moments that shined. The author excelled at examining marriages and family dynamics by exploring the vast range of emotions felt by Dynah, her parents, and her grandmother. She captured the nuance of Dynah's parents' marriage and feeling for one another to perfection.
The greatest failing was in the lack of discussion about the option of adoption. While it was mentioned briefly very little time was spent looking into adoption as a legitimate means for coping with unwanted pregnancy. Normally the omission of options would not be criteria for ranking a book but it is clear the author is using the story as a means of helping girls in this situation and I applaud her for doing so. Yet, while Dynah was a nineteen year old college student with many options available to her most girls who find themselves pregnant are much younger and adoption is almost always the very best option. Teens in high school should not and cannot be presented only the options of abortion or raising a child. Of course, this book was published in 1997 when pregnant twelve years old wasn't quite so commonplace as it is today. So, perhaps if given the chance to write the same story set in the current time frame this oversight would be attended to more carefully.
Speaking of the year of publication... I caught myself thinking, "Why don't they just use their cell phone?" only to remember they weren't widely in use or quite so small back then. In the same vein I was amused to think of Dynah and another character, Joe, actually writing letters to one another instead of using email. Oh how the world has changed! :)