Friday, March 4, 2016

Riven by Jerry B. Jenkins: A Book Review

Jerry B. Jenkins is known primarily for his record-breaking Left Behind series, co-authored with Tim LaHaye, but he's written dozens (over 190, to be precise) of other books. I've read and enjoyed many of those books and Riven is near the top of the list.

The story centers on Brady Wayne Darby, a young man who grows up with an alcoholic mother and younger brother in a trailer park. His mother is abusive, and Brady takes on the job of looking after his younger brother, Peter, who is sorely in need of Brady's brotherly love and support. Together they get along the best they can, avoiding their mother at every turn. Brady knows his humble surroundings have branded him a loser with other students, but he compensates for that by participating in sports. That works for a while until he's booted off the team for his poor academic performance. Eventually he ends up in drama class where he finds spectacular, albeit fleeting success as Conrad Birdie in Bye Bye Birdie. Even that, though, can't forestall the inevitable. His utter disregard for warnings about his academic performance (or lack of) nets him the loss of his coveted role in the school play.

Thomas Carey, a tired pastor with an ailing wife, finds himself the chaplain at Adamsville State Prison, a super-maximum-security facility that holds the worst of the worst. There, Thomas and Brady (who is now thirty years old and on death row after admitting to the gruesome murder of Katie North) meet and embark on a journey that will change the lives and attitudes of everyone at ASP, and cause ripples at the state and even national level. The reason? After announcing his refusal to aid in any attempts at turning over his conviction, Brady decides to be put to death by crucifixion.

Riven explores the darker side of life--despair born of circumstances, regret, bad choices and the price one pays for those poor choices--as well rebirth, joy, and the freedom that forgiveness offers. At over 500 pages long, I wouldn't suggest reading (or rereading, in my case) this book the week you're writing a review on it, but it is well worth the time it will take to finish it. Jenkins has written a book that will make you think, and isn't that the reason we read (or write) books?

I highly recommend Riven. It can be found on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, as well as most other online or brick and mortar stores.
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