Christa Allan has tackled a weighty topic in her second novel. I think she handles it well in some ways, and not so well in others. My first problem with this novel is that it feels very contrived, almost formulaic. The hate crime seems to be structured as a plot device worked in simply to further the progression of the storyline. The novel drags in several places, too. The main character, Caryn, engages in a great deal of inner dialogue that becomes very tedious at times. The other characters aren't developed fully so it is difficult to connect with them.
My other complaint is that this is Christian fiction, published by a Christian publisher (Abingdon Press), but it simply glosses over the debate over whether or not homosexuality is a sin in God's eyes. Should Christians treat homosexuals with love and kindness regardless of the answer to this question? Of course! And Christa Allan does a fine job of conveying this message. But it would have been nice to see some actual dialogue addressing the verses in Scripture that condemn homosexuality rather than just mentioning the ones dealing with grace. The author also glosses over the debate over whether people are born gay or whether or not it is a choice. The author clearly thinks it is the way an individual is born and can't be changed, but she never engages in an intellectually honest debate over the matter. I would have liked to see the main character, Caryn, as someone well grounded in her faith and someone who was very familiar with Scripture. That could have made for some interesting conversations between the characters.
At one point in the novel, Caryn explains to her 8 year old son, Ben, about his uncle being gay:
"some people are born with brown eyes, some with green, and some people with blue eyes. Even in the same family, different children can have different eye colors. You don't choose eye color. It just is. And blue-eyed people fall in love with brown-eyed ones. Sometimes two green-eyed people fall in love. So sometimes a girl and a boy love each other, sometimes a girl and a girl love each other, and sometimes a boy and a boy love each other."
These are the kinds of explanations you can expect from this novel. I wholly agree with the notion of extending love and grace to others regardless of their sexuality. However, I was disappointed that something labeled as Christian fiction would so deftly sidestep an issue of importance regarding Scripture- Is homosexuality a sin from a Biblical standpoint?
Wherever you come down on the issue, I think this novel would have been far more realistic and intellectually engaging had the author actually fleshed out both sides of the debate.