As a Francine Rivers fan I love everything she has written and this novel is no exception. There was an unexpected twist at the end that I did not see coming, so Mrs. Rivers continues to inspire, encourage and challenge me. I confess at first I thought this novel was just "Redeeming Love" set in a different time period. As I read on, I felt it was a metaphor for the prodigal son. In the final pages/author notes I learned the idea for this novel is Ezekiel 16. Francine Rivers is just "awesomely amazing"! She continues to "out do" herself with each novel. I highly recommend to all!
I love some of Francine Rivers's books, but sad to say, not this one. As it's being distributed as a Christian book, I think it should come with a warning about the content. I was also disappointed in the publisher for allowing so much graphic portrayal of sin in this book. Of course God forgives those who repent and this was clearly shown in the story. But while the reader can know of the sins, it isn't necessary to actually walk the reader through the details in the scenes and especially the intimate scenes. The story line itself shows God's mercy and forgiveness and love to sinners. I just think the reader needs to be aware of the content--especially before passing it on to young ladies.
A Bridge to Haven is the sweeping saga of an abandoned newborn, Abra, who is left under a bridge by her unwed teenage mother. She is found by a local Pastor on one of his early morning walks. However after five years with Pastor Zeke and his wife Marianne, Abra is then moved to another family when Marianne suddenly dies. Denied the only family she has known, Abra begins to build a wall around her heart developing a deep distrust of most everyone. The only person she shows a little bit about her true self is her former foster brother Joshua. Then in her senior year a young man show up in Haven and sweeps Abra off her feet and she soon learns what her choices are going to cost her.
Joshua, Pastor Zekes son, has been in love with Abra for years. He is devastated when she suddenly leaves town. Torn between his desire to leave and Haven and search for her and obeying God when He tells Joshua to wait. I love the way the author writes about Joshuas struggle because it depicts every Christians struggle, human will verses Gods will.
I think that Mitzi was my favorite. She teaches Abra to play the piano everything from Hymns to ragtime, trusting that God will use Abras love of music when the time is right.
In many ways this book reminds me in so many ways of Redeeming Love. It showcases Gods grace, love and forgiveness even when humanity is at its ugliest. And I can understand why this book would make some readers uncomfortable. Although there is nothing graphic, there are sexual undertones and situations that are alluded to that some people would not like to see in a Christian novel. Personally I like a novel every now and then that brings the grit and reality of humanity especially when it is tempered with Gods unconditional love and mercy.
For me the only downside was the lack of explanation in the time line. There are places where from one chapter to another simi big periods of time have passed and it would take me a few pages to play catch up.
If you have teenage girls who want to read this book, I would suggest that you read it first so you can determine if it is suitable.
I will be recommending this book quite a bit, but with the above warning.
Bridge to Haven begins with a newborn baby girl found abandoned under the bridge to the town of Haven. A large part of the book takes place in Hollywood which is not my favorite setting but it was interesting. The last third of the book was definitely the best part. Francine Rivers never fails to bring her characters to life and make you feel their emotions. The ending did contain an element of surprise for me. Francine Rivers has written another poignant story of God's unconditional love and forgiveness.
To me this novel seemed like a blend between Redeeming Love and Her Mothers Hope. Most of Francine Riverss books focus on the same themes of forgiveness, love, and redemption, and these themes are woven seamlessly throughout the novel. She is so talented at working the gospel and God into the story and into the characters lives without it coming across as pushy or unrealistic.
I also really enjoyed the secondary characters in this novel. The residents of Haven were real and made the small town come alive. I especially liked Mitzi, Abras friend who encouraged her to play the piano. As a girl who grew up playing hymns almost from day one of piano lessons, I absolutely loved that part of the story. I so appreciated and identified with how those old hymns would just pop into Abras mind when times were hard to give her comfort and peace.
The overall plot in this book is not necessarily surprising. You can see where it is going the whole time, but with these sweeping saga-type novels, the story is really in the journey. I did think this one got to be a little long, especially towards the end.
The romance in this book is part of the story, but it is definitely not the main plot. Abras story of grace and redemption is the main focus. Its kind of refreshing to read a Christian fiction book every once in a while that isnt so wrapped up in the romantic plot. That being said, the romance in this story was not quite as good as I had hoped.
I also feel I should warn readers that this is not a light Christian story. It is real and brutally honest in its portrayal of war, sexuality, and abusive relationships.
Even though there were things about this novel that I had trouble with, the story as a whole was completely engrossing. It was pretty much what I expected from Francine Rivers.