CRADLE OF DREAMS

Joseph Bentz, Author
Joseph Bentz, Author . Bethany $10.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-7642-2208-5
Paperback - 978-0-7642-8772-5
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The subject of Bentz's novel—infertility—is topical, but the novel itself is tedious. Paul and Laura have an idyllic life: happy marriage, lovely home. After two years of trying, however, they still haven't been able to conceive. So begins the long ordeal of treatments and testing, coupled with tension and marital strife. The agonies of medical intervention soon give way to the heartaches of adoption, as Paul and Laura deal with lawyers and unreliable birth parents. The story ends happily, but by the end of the book, most readers won't care; Bentz never develops the characters enough for us to feel much concern for their plight. The novel suffers from a distinct lack of context; it plunges right into the issue of infertility from page one, and readers learn little else about Paul and Laura except that they're Christians. The dialogue is stilted, and Bentz's heavy reliance on adverbs ("Steve exclaimed, confidently"; "she said breathlessly"; "he said reluctantly") grows tiresome. The attempt at a subplot—involving a friend of Laura's who gave her own baby up for adoption—has potential, but Bentz skips over it in a few pages; one wonders why he bothered to include it at all. Christian couples wrestling with infertility may find this book comforting, but the heartrending and important topic deserves more nuanced treatment. (June)

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