cover image CHILD OF GRACE


Lori Copeland, Author . Tyndale $11.99 (231p) ISBN 978-0-8423-

Copeland, who has built a sturdy reputation in the inspirational romance genre, crosses over for the first time into Christian women's fiction—an unwise move, as it turns out. Unfortunately, this is not a very enjoyable read. The narrator tells the story of Eva Jean Roberts (E.J.), a fast-track single professional woman who has returned to her small, backwater hometown for the first time in 18 years. She carries a secret burden and confusedly hopes to find relief from her problems. With the compassion and help of her grandmother, the widower next door, her motherly high school friend and several other kindly church-going folk, E.J. does indeed find the grace that allows her to make peace with her life. The book is crippled by its painful predictability; it lacks the dramatic tension that keeps readers turning pages. The moment E.J.'s problem is revealed, the answer to her dilemma is obvious. It is also difficult to identify with E.J. when all her problems, both professional and personal, are eventually wrapped up in implausibly neat little bows. Copeland is known for her folksy down-home style, but the cute asides to the reader ("now people," "well folks," etc.) don't blend with the rest of the narration. This repetitive, tidy Sunday School lesson will quickly lose the interest of Christian readers seeking gritty characters, compelling love stories and realistic resolutions. (July )