Two Weeks by Karen Kingsbury

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Author’s Note: We were provided with an ARC of this novel in exchange for a  fair and honest review.

Plot & Storyline Quality (2.5 points)

Karen Kingsbury’s newest Baxter series novel tells the story of Ashley and Landon’s son Cole and a young woman named Elise. Cole is just starting his senior year in high school, and has big plans to be a pre-med major at Liberty University by the next school year. Elise is a hurting young woman who has just moved to the area and is staying with her eccentric aunt and uncle. Cole has a stable family life, good friends, and a strong faith in Christ. Elise has never known her father, and her mother has worked full-time – sometimes at multiple jobs – for as long as she can remember, leaving her little time to spend with Elise.
Elise’s dream is to be an artist – a dream her mother disapproves of. She doesn’t see how God could love her after the bad choices she has recently made. Cole has never been interested in dating and wants to wait to start a relationship towards the end of his college years. That changes on the first day of school. He finds himself drawn to Elise and her difficulties – a fact that soon leads him to more involvement than he bargained for. Elise soon spills her secrets to him – she just left an abusive relationship and thinks she could be pregnant – and both of them are left floundering. Cole seeks God for wisdom, while Elise retreats deeper inside herself. In the end, God orchestrates a divine plan that involves healing many hearts, and leading some back to Him. First, there are several positives to this novel. I was impressed at Kingsbury’s apparent spiritual growth as an author which was reflected throughout the story. Her examples of God’s perfect plan for each person’s life are relatable and encouraging to the reader. Additionally, her characters’ commitment to prayer is the central theme of the novel. (spoiler) I also liked that Cole and Elise do not end up married. In comparison, there are also some flaws. First, the Baxter family theme is a bit repetitive at this point. Second, at times the novel lapses into the information-dump style of writing. Finally, the product placement for LU is not exactly subtle and could be offensive to some. Therefore, Kingsbury earns an above average score in this section.

Character Development (2.5 points)

Kingsbury’s commitment to character development is mostly upheld in this novel. Cole and Elise’s characters are shaped by their past experiences, and both are pretty realistic and have a clear purpose in the story. The secondary characters are also quite good because they add continuity and depth to the plot. Furthermore, Kingsbury does a good job of connecting her characters together without being too predictable. One special note here is that the characters are used to present the Biblical view of the unborn in a down-to-earth manner. The unexpected plot twist with one of the minor characters is also quite good. Additionally, the flaws here include a bit of melodrama -a norm for this author – and some characters who feel like copies of one another. Needless to say, Kingsbury earns an above average score here as well.

Creativity & Originality (1 point)

In conclusion, Kingsbury earns a full point in originality for writing a novel unlike most I have read from her before. She avoided most of her usual pitfalls and turned out a poignant read that is sure to inspire many readers. For this reason, I feel that this novel could either be a part of the Baxter Family TV Series already in progress, or a standalone film. As a film, it could promote the Biblical view on life before birth as a drama/coming of age storyline. The casting would have to be on point, for the characters drive the plot. Good production quality is also a given, not to mention good continuity. It may also need a bit of editing and some more everyday dialogue. In the hands of a proven or budding filmmaker, this could be a great pro-life film.

Wish List Rating: 6 out of 10 points

The Atonement Child: A Summary

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The Atonement Child…what a book, what a topic to take on. Francine Rivers takes this difficult subject on like a champ, and while some may say that this is not her best novel, I have always appreciated the story concept. Even in her early novels, it was clear that Rivers had God-given talent. We here at Box Office Revolution believe that it is time for this novel to grace the big screen with it’s presence. The Atonement Child covers subjects such as abortion, rape, Christianity, the sanctity of human life, tragedy, generational sin, marriage, parent-child relationships, sickness, selfishness, selflessness, and unconditional love. The opening sequence sets a nostalgic scene, featuring a young Christian college student who is finishing her night shift and heading back to her dorm. She bids farewell to her boss, declines the offer of a ride home, and heads out into the darkness on foot. When Dynah is almost back to her college, tragedy strikes, she is attacked by a stranger whose face she never sees. Her resulting pregnancy, and other events that follow, will change her life and the lives of those she loves forever. When Dynah’s ‘pro-life’ fiance learns she is pregnant, he suddenly decides that abortion is acceptable after all. Most of her friends tell her that it is okay to have an abortion because she didn’t love the father, and her parents are too horrified and occupied with their own problems to be of any help to her. To top it all off, the dean of the college kicks her out because he feels that her situation would be an embarrassment to their fine institution. There is, however, one person who cares about Dynah and secretly loves her unconditionally, but he is afraid to tell her how he feels. Eventually Dynah realizes that the only way she can think clearly is to get away from all the voices telling her what they think she should do. What will Dynah decide? While the ending of this novel is somewhat rushed, the spirit of the story is upheld. I think that Rivers could have taken the time to add a few additional chapters, therefore giving more depth to other subplots. However, in film context this is a small problem that could be easily fixed with the right writer and director. The writer/director would have to be careful to use original content, and adapt the film to clearly communicate the message to today’s audience. In the right hands, The Atonement Child could be an amazing movie. That being said, this is a project I would like to see the Erwins or one of their offshoots take on, as either one has the talent and resources to make this novel a great film. In conclusion, if you want to make a movie that will give people an honest look at problems in the church pro-life culture, look to this novel for inspiration.