Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Book Review: Redemption by Karen Kingsbury and Gary Smalley

Title: Redemption
Author: Karen Kingsbury; Gary Smalley
Genre: Christian Fiction
Year: 2002
Rating: 4 of 5 stars


This is my second time reading this book, my first time a year or two ago. I want to read the rest of the Baxter series, which is extensive and knew I needed to reread this book. The story was a heartbreaking one: Kari finds out her husband, whom she loves very much, is cheating on her. Soon after, she finds out that she’s pregnant with their first child. Her husband wants a divorce, Kari is committed to her husband and her marriage and wants to make it work.

One of the themes in this book was a line Kari continuously said: Love is a decision. It’s absolutely true. So many people feel like love is an emotion, love is about feeling good and being happy. It’s not. You have to make the decision to love people, through the ups and the downs. Through the cheating. While I think cheating is one of those absolutes, it’s inspiring (well, as inspiring as a fictional character can be!) to see how committed Kari was to her marriage and loving him, through this awful circumstance.

The story also introduced you to Ryan Taylor, who was Kari’s best friend and first boyfriend in high school. They had a strong connection (and still do) and he comes back into town around the moment Kari finds out about her husband. They are reunited and while Kari tries to deny any feelings she still has for him, she knows he is Ryan Taylor: her first love and the one she never stopped loving.

One of the biggest complaints people have against the book is that there is too much religion. And sure, it is a Christian book and more heavy on Christianity than most books out there but that’s what makes this book so great. So many Christian authors are trying to become too mainstream with their fiction where faith takes a backseat to the main story. In some books, it’s barely even addressed. So I like that Kingsbury inserted so much faith into this novel. It wasn’t preachy, but it was simple, solid, back to the basics faith.

While the story did seem to become clinical in some parts and felt more that the authors were reciting from a training manual than actually writing a fiction novel, it was still a very well-written book. It followed Kari’s journey of fighting for her marriage and holding tight to God even when she didn’t understand what was happening. And it followed the story of a man who has hit rock bottom, who strayed so far from the faith that was so true to him that he became a person he barely recognized.

It’s the story of redemption, and how God can take a situation that seems so heartbreaking and use it for good.

What are your thoughts on the phrase: Love is a decision?


  1. aw, that sounds like a good book :) i can never read books over again though! it's interesting how some people can!

  2. I agree that love is a decision and I think that it needs to be applied in more situations that it seems to be sometimes.  However, I'd like to see that her husband made a decision to work through a tough time with his wife rather than cheat.  If someone I love and gave nothing but 100% to cheated on me then told me he didn't want me anymore, I think the best decision in that case would be to love myself.  Faith or no faith, I would hate to see a woman stick around through that. 

  3. I couldn't for the longest time either, but as I got older and had less time for new books, I started picking up the old again. :)

  4. I believe Love is a decision, and one I've had to make many times through my teen years..God tells us we have to love our "enemies" and while these people I decided to love weren't my enemies...I had to DECIDE (with God's help of course) to show them love..and some reciprocated while others spurned it, but I was content knowing I did what I was supposed too. " and while these people I decided to love weren't my enemies...I had to DECIDE (with God's help of course) to show them love..and some reciprocated while others spurned it, but I was content knowing I did what I was supposed too. 

  5. Love both is and isn't a decision. It's definitely a feeling, an overwhelming rush of a feeling. Even when B and I fight, I don't see myself as having to choose to love him. I love him regardless of what he does.
    That said, I agree with Erin that if I was cheated on, that he would have to show true remorse and want to work it out with me. I'm not really worried about that though.
    I am curious though, if the main girl feels that love is a choice, then why didn't she simply choose to not love the old flame? It seems a bit contradictory that it's okay for her to still love him (even if she doesn't act on it) but not okay for her husband to have cheated. Biblically speaking, adultery can occur in the heart. Not to mention that girl's are much more likely to cheat emotionally than physically. It doesn't make it any better. I guess I'd have to know how that was handled before I'd be okay with reading a book like that. 

  6. Your Friend5/17/11, 2:20 PM

     I completely agree that love is a decision, even through difficult times in relationships. But I think it's also important to remember that God gives us the ability to love, and that we can't truly love without His grace. I'm praying that in light of being hurt so much, you'll be able to remember God's grace and extend it to your own father, and that you'll be able to forgive him and love him completely one day--even if he continues to hurt you. It's difficult, and it hurts like hell, but it can be done with the help of God. And what a great testimony to God's glory is it to love someone who's not only unlovable, but who's downright hurtful! But that's how God loves us! I heard a story about a woman I know whose husband was abusive to her and their daughters, and rather than leave or retaliate, she continued to show him love, and she never stopped praying for him! And now his life is turned completely around and he's the most loving, humble, and grateful man! And it was all because of God!

  7. I wasn't keen on reading it again, believe me! But I knew I needed to reread it to better understand the next book in the series so reluctantly, I did. Still, it's a great book so I didn't mind!

  8. I didn't want to give the book away so there was a LOT more going on than what I stated. That was really just the beginning of it & a lot more happened. I totally agree with you and I don't think I would have enjoyed this book if it wasn't apparent why she was sticking around and that she was doing it because she was strong enough, not because she was too weak to think she had a different choice.

  9. Ah...loving our enemies. Such a tough thing for us to do! But so, so important. 

  10. I didn't address everything that happened in the book because I didn't want to give away everything that went on. There was a lot more to what I stated. I just told about the beginning and the premise of the book. Kingsbury does address Kari's feelings toward her old flame and how that is essentially cheating as well. 

    Throughout the book, Kari really didn't have the support of her family with this decision to stay married. They didn't understand because a) he cheated and b) he wants a divorce. As you stated in your comment, she loves him regardless of what he did. But she still had to DECIDE to believe in her marriage and believe in the love they shared.

    Like I said, a lot more to the story than what I mentioned. What I wrote was just the gist of the story, but there was a bigger one at play. You would just have to read the story to find out! :)


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