cover image A TIME TO EMBRACE


Karen Kingsbury, . . W Publishing, $13.99 (316pp) ISBN 978-0-8499-4347-8

In this sequel to A Time to Dance, beloved evangelical Christian novelist Kingsbury brings readers up to date on the trials and tribulations of Abby and John Reynolds, who, after 20-plus years of marriage, are enjoying something of a second honeymoon. Then John's career comes under attack when anonymous letters smearing his reputation are sent to the high school where he coaches. Worse still, he is in a car accident (a well-worn device of evangelical fiction), which he survives but which paralyzes him from the waist down. Abby and John's new challenges sit at the center of this novel, but there are several engaging subplots keeping the narrative moving at a fast clip: their newly married daughter learns she's pregnant, even though she had planned to wait four years before starting a family; a divorced couple is thrown back together and must work out their anger and mistrust; and Jake Daniels, the student whose car hit Coach Reynolds, must try to forgive himself for injuring his mentor. Religiously inclined readers will appreciate Kingsbury's deft and sophisticated treatment of prayer, as characters struggle to understand how and when God answers prayers. Less satisfying is Kingsbury's unsubtle insertion of hot-button evangelical social issues: a son delving into Internet porn, a mother-in-law repenting for a long-past abortion. There's even a passing potshot at sexual education in schools. Still, Kingsbury's hallmarks are in evidence: readers can expect lively dialogue, likable characters and a passionate witness to the commitments and obligations of marriage. (Oct. 28)