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Apr 20, 2012

Need You Now by Beth Wiseman

When making bad choices can ruin your life...
Need You Now by Beth Wiseman
Thomas Nelson April 10, 2012
Paperback 320 pages
Christian Fiction
Review copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
Burton Book Review Rating: 3 stars

When big-city life threatens the safety of one of their children, Brad and Darlene Henderson move with their three teenagers from Houston to the tiny town of Round Top, Texas.
Adjusting to small-town life is difficult for the kids, especially fifteen-year-old Grace who is coping in a dangerous way.
Married life hasn't always been bliss, but their strong faith has carried Brad and Darlene through the difficult times. When Darlene takes a job outside the home for the first time in their marriage, the domestic tension rises.
While working with special needs children at her new job, the widowed father of one of the students starts paying more attention to Darlene than is appropriate. Problem is, she feels like someone is listening to her for the first time in a long time.
If Darlene ever needed God . . . it's now.
This is the story of your average contemporary family: thirties something couple with three growing kids. They move to a quaint town in Texas and try to settle into a decently quiet life, and they seem to do okay for awhile. The kids are adapting differently, and the biggest issue is with their middle child Grace, who normally never causes any problems. However, Grace has taken to self-harm in order to release her pain, and it is a difficult topic to read about. The mother Darlene is the main character, and there are times I simply could not connect with her. She really had everything she could have hoped for with a fabulous house (living next door to a movie star), overall healthy kids (till the cutting part) and a husband who adored her. Instead of counting her blessings, she would instead think of the floors that needed replacing, that her husband would easily be able to afford as he had just made partner, and then she seemed to begrudge her neighbor's natural beauty.
Darlene decides to take another job for no real reason except for herself and self-satisfaction, and while doing so she becomes attracted to another person, and her family begins to fall apart around her partly due to her absence. Grace's self-mutilation shocks everyone in the family but they seek counseling for Grace while the parents blame each other. Darlene's temptation to stray comes and goes, and despite the warnings from her best friend, Darlene continues to ignore the ramifications of her flirtations. Through it all, she flip flops between asking for guidance through her faith, and then denying the faith that is a huge part of her very soul.

The characters are all very well written, especially in showing their dimensions and flaws, but I think I would've connected better with Darlene if she realized the importance of family and God first. Instead, Darlene seemed self-centered and expected everything handed to her, even when seeking advice from her best friend. My favorite characters were actually the friends: Darlene's best friend, Layla the movie star, and Grace's best friend Skylar who dressed in the non-conformist Goth fashion. The plot was strong, with several themes from faith and redemption to difficult topics such as cutting and adultery (which caused my stomach to physically ache!).

The novel is a quick read, with an ending I didn't quite expect as it made the whole read much more worthwhile. I must mention that I normally enjoy historical christian fiction very much, and this was my first Christian fiction in a "contemporary" setting, and as such has proven that the historical part is probably a required theme in my reads as opposed to a present-day setting. In judging the raving Amazon reviews, I am definitely in the minority here with not totally loving this novel, as there are quite a few glowing reviews there.