cover image WHEN YOU BELIEVE


Deborah Bedford, . . Warner Faith, $13.95 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-446-69041-6

The joy of this contemporary novel of faith lies in Bedford's calm, competent voice as she spins a turbulent tale of love, sexual misconduct and divided loyalties. High school counselor Lydia Porter has discovered her soulmate in Charlie Stains, a fellow teacher at Shadrach High School in Missouri. Just before she announces their engagement, one of Porter's favorite students, Shelby Tatum, confides in her that she is being sexually molested—by Stains. Heartbroken and conflicted, Porter must make choices that will affect Shelby and her fiancé and that will tear apart her church and small town. As she grapples with the implications of Shelby's accusation, Porter is forced to confront an episode from her own high school days that has colored her life and feelings of self-worth. There is also an absorbing subplot about Porter's past supernatural ability to find lost children, which contrasts sharply to her present state: "Nowadays," she confesses, "I can't even find myself." Bedford (A Morning Like This; Harvest Dance), formerly a romance novelist in the general market, shows her veteran writing experience throughout the book by laying false trails, creating multifaceted characters and keeping her descriptions vivid but succinct. Porter's reconciliation with her past may feel a little too easy to some, and the ending is contrived in order to punish the guilty party. However, this is a well-told tale that should appeal to readers of faith who enjoy an inspirational love story wrapped around deeper issues. (Aug.)