William Sirls writes a “Christian” drama about the lives of five people in the small town of Bennis, Michigan. The story centers around the mysterious appearance of a beautiful garden on the edge of town and it’s connection with the trials of the main characters in the story, especially a young teenager who has been scarred by the abuse of his father.
The story is beautifully written and almost exclusively focuses only on just a few characters. The characters were well fleshed out so that you really cared about them. The story really centered around the need for this young man to reconcile with his mother and especially with God.
The issue of physical abuse and the pain (physical and emotional) it caused was strongly emphasized and appears to be the central focus of the book as it begins and ends with that theme. And from there, Sirls focused on the need for healing of those wounds. Forgiveness was key. For the “healing” of several characters, forgiveness was the main issue and the change after they forgave was amazing.
The story also deals with the issue of death – death of a pet, of a father, of a friend and knowing where they will be after death. How you can know you are going to heaven or your loved one is in heaven? According to Sirls, this is based on faith. And heaven is the ultimate healing of sickness.
What was missing in this story though was a focus on Jesus. Certainly God was mentioned all the time. They saw “a man” in the garden but not his face. The conclusion was that this was God. Andy goes to his pastor seeking spiritual help and there is not one mention of Jesus Christ and redemption. In fact, not once did the name of Jesus or Christ come up (unless you count the word “Christian.” That was disappointing as this book could really have been a great testimony to salvation and healing through Jesus and the cross. For that reason, I feel that Sirls missed the boat. There is more to Christianity than believing in God. No one can come to the Father except through Christ.
This book has been reviewed as a part of the Book Sneeze Blogger review program. Thanks to Thomas Nelson Publishers who provided a copy for review. I was not required to write a positive review.