Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sunrise on the Battery by Beth Webb Hart

I finished Sunrise on the Battery by Beth Webb Hart this morning . . . just in time to post my review. (Grin.)

Jackson and Mary Lynn both grew up in small town South Carolina. Their families were poor and both have regrets about the things that they missed out on growing up. When they married, they determined that their children would not want for anything. Their three daughters are in nearly every extra-curricular activity known to man, and Jackson and Mary Lynn have finally broken into high society in Charleston with invitations pending to join some of the most prestigious social clubs. However, Mary Lynn feels like there must be something more. When Jackson begins reading The Message Bible and questions everything about his beliefs of God, the family's world is turned upside down. Nothing is off the table.

Beth Webb Hart is a gifted writer who easily and quickly pulled me into the story. She wrote this story from three different perspectives (Jackson's, Mary Lynn's, and Catherine's - their oldest daughter) which allowed me to fully understand the thoughts and feelings of all parties. The level of detail that she put into the story gave me such a great picture of Charleston . . . almost as if I'd been there. I can definitely imagine the streets and neighborhood where the family lived.

It seems that the majority of novels I've read recently center around a conflict between two individuals - mostly a man and a woman who will eventually overcome their problems and fall in love. In Sunrise on the Battery, however, the conflict was really between the family (mainly Jackson) and God. It was unlike anything I'd read before, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I also loved how the author portrayed a couple who had been married for nearly twenty years but were still in love with each other. They had everything they could have ever wanted . . . except God. Again, this is so different than a lot of what I've read. I loved the picture of a healthy, loving marriage relationship.

I will say that there were a couple of things that I wish had been more clear in the story. First, it was never really made clear if Mary Lynn was a Christian. She prayed for her husband, she attended a women's prayer group at church, and she went to church on Christmas Eve. But I wish that there would have been a greater emphasis on Mary Lynn's relationship with the Lord . . . whatever that was. Also, I wish the author would have laid out a clear, concise explanation of what the gospel is. There is much mention of sharing the gospel, and parts of the gospel are discussed, but it could be easily misunderstood if a reader didn't already know what the gospel was. I think people could (mistakenly) walk away thinking that warm fuzzies, baptism, making grand gestures, or logically evaluating the Bible are what results in a person's salvation. The author did not directly state any of these things, but the lack of a full explanation of the gospel could lead to these misunderstandings.

Beth Webb Hart also mentions that she got the idea for the premise of this book after reading Radical by David Platt. I think she wrote a great book . . . however, (for me) she didn't really address a lot of the issues raised in Radical. I think she got the family started on the right path, but didn't really carry the story out as far as it could have (should have?) gone. Perhaps if Jackson had discovered faith earlier in the book, it would have allowed more time to really flesh out these ideas.

Overall, though, I really did enjoy this book. Jackson's his zeal and enthusiasm for going "all in" once he became a Christian was challenging. There were times that I shook my head at the way he went about things, but the author left me feeling like the family was really working to figure out what this new Christian life was supposed to look like.

I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson and The B&B Media Group in exchange for my fair and honest review.

For more information about the book and a sneak preview, check out this post.

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