Catherine Palmer, Author . Tyndale $19.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-8423-5421-9

In this important but disturbing novel for the Christian market, an award-winning romance writer switches genres to expose what happens when parents neglect their families in the name of God. As three "missionary kids" hit middle age, they find that their parents' prolonged absences while they were children have kept them from functioning normally as adults. Julia Chappell is the seemingly perfect wife of a youth minister, but she is unhappily pregnant again with twins after her husband's failed vasectomy. Julia's brother, Peter Mossman, is on the brink of divorce because of his outbursts of anger. When their sister, Debbie Mossman, lies near death with anorexia, Julia and Peter rush to her hospital bed. Together they unpack the bitter memories of their childhood abandonment, beginning with the "Happy Room" day care on board a ship bound for Africa. Palmer uses journal-like entries to flash back to episodes as seen through the eyes of each sibling. When confronted, their mother can't understand her children's anguish over the past, since she and her husband were only following "God's will." The novel is a thinly disguised roman à clef—Palmer grew up the daughter of missionary parents in Africa, and the story rings with authenticity. It isn't flawless; there's a needlessly repetitive section where Debbie discusses her childhood bout with malaria, and Peter's return to faith is wrapped up too neatly. But Palmer deserves kudos for plowing new ground for CBA readers, who are used to having their missionaries portrayed with polished halos. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 11/26/2001
Release date: 01/01/2002
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-0-8423-5422-6
Hardcover - 448 pages - 978-0-7862-4849-0
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