Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Book Review: When You Believe

When You Believe. Deborah Bedford. 2003/2009. Faith Words. 288 pages.

The afternoon started like any other afternoon. the first Tuesday of October was a solid, bright school day, and outside on the school steps, the sun fell across everyone's arms like a warm shawl.

Lydia Porter is a school guidance counselor. One day a student, Shelby Tatum, comes to her with a shocking story. She's being sexually abused. When Lydia asks her to name her abuser, Lydia is in for the shock of her life, because the man Shelby names is the love of Lydia's life, a man who has just asked her to marry him. Obligated in so many ways to report the abuse, Lydia does what she must. But it isn't easy. It is breaking her heart. Because she believes that Charlie, the man in question, couldn't have done this. But. She also believes that the abuse is real. Someone is abusing Shelby, even if that someone isn't Charlie. Someone needs to be Shelby's advocate. Someone needs to be there for Shelby. Someone needs to reassure Shelby that this is not her fault. That the abuse is not her fault. That she's not a bad person. But being there for Shelby--appearing to take her side--may cost her her happily ever after. Even if Charlie were to be proven innocent. Would he be able to forgive her for her role in this? Lydia is learning that some things you just have to trust God on.

When You Believe is a compelling contemporary novel. It explores what happens when accusations are made, how easy it is for a community, a school, a church family, to be torn apart by taking sides.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible


Michelle Sutton said...

This book had a different title in 2003 when it was first printed. It's the only book I ever threw at the wall. The situation in there is not right. I've worked with child abuse for years (CPS) and the situation set up in the story is pure and simple...wrong. It gives the wrong message. Sorry to be so blunt.

Becky said...

Thanks for commenting, Michelle. I've not read much about abuse before. So it's good to hear another perspective on this one to put it into balance.

Michelle Sutton said...

I read it awhile ago (2004 or 2005) so unless they changed the plot in a major way the story gives the impression that you don't have to report disclosed abuse (she struggles with this as a teacher, but it's mandated by law) and then it gives the impression that kids make this stuff up about strangers (which is a bunch of crap for the most part and perpetuates a belief in the Christian world that the state needlessly gets involved in family's lives and takes kids for the wrong reasons.) The premise of this story was all wrong and that's what I disliked about it. Most people misunderstand abuse and this just further enforces their ignorance/misunderstanding of this subject matter. I'm speaking as someone who has interviewed hundreds of kids and been involved in hundreds of cases. I have never seen a scenario like this one in the story (where a kid falsely accuses an innocent man not related to her.) Ever. Off my soapbox now. I know it's not your fault that you weren't aware of this stuff and you are being gracious in your comments. The kind of misrepresentation of abuse reporting just ticks me off, so don't take my thoughts/comment personally.