Ten years ago, sisters Olivia and Melanie Greene were on a backcountry hiking trip when their parents were in a fatal car accident. Over the years, they grew apart, each coping with the loss in her own way. Olivia plunged herself into law school, work, and a materialist view of the world–what you see is what you get, and that’s all you get. Melanie dropped out of college and developed an online life-coaching business around her cafeteria-style spirituality–a little of this, a little of that, whatever makes you happy. Now, at Melanie’s insistence (and against Olivia’s better judgment), they are embarking on a hike in the Porcupine Mountains of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. In this remote wilderness they’ll face their deepest fears, question their most dearly held beliefs, and begin to see that perhaps the best way to move forward is the one way they had never considered.
Every year, many Christian books are released, and writers of the same show off their creative talents. Across the many genres, these novels are judged based on the presence or absence of plot continuity and exceptional storytelling skills, above average character development, and whether or not a novel correctly addresses an issue or issues that relate to current American Christian culture. These novels are separated into roughly three groups of authors and their respective works of art: the exceptional, the potentially great, and those chosen by the votes of our readers. Likewise, winning titles are listed according to their genre. At Box Office Revolution, we believe it is our prerogative to annually recognize the entertainment creators who have the ability to bring revolution to Christian entertainment.
Reader’s Choice Book of the Year: The Line Between by Tosca Lee
Staff Choice Authors of the Year: Rachelle Dekker, Tosca Lee, Morgan L. Busse, Patrick W. Carr, Susie Finkbeiner, and Jaime Jo Wright.
Staff Choice Honorably Mentioned Authors of the Year: Erin Bartels, Susan Meissner, Melody Carlson, Amanda Barratt
Congratulations to all the authors mentioned in this post on their wins and honorable mentions! Thank you all for being committed to producing high quality Christian entertainment and for glorifying God with the gifts He has given you!
Author’s Note: We were provided with a free copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Plot & Storyline Quality (3 points)
Erin Bartels’ second novel has a strong storyline and good characters that make for a pleasantly imperfect read that shows much potential for the future. Robin has lived an atypical life from the beginning. She spent part of her childhood as the daughter of a U.S. senator and his wife, and the rest of it surviving under different identities with different caregivers. When Robin’s mom and dad are arrested and put in jail indefinitely for murder and other charges, she is shipped off to her grandmother’s trailer in Michigan. It doesn’t take long for her to meet her new neighbor, Peter, who comes to visit his dead mother in the cemetery in her front yard. The two quickly become friends, but Robin holds him at arms’ length, covering her insecurities and lack of identity with sarcasm and resilience. When Robin’s grandmother dies suddenly, she can’t handle the fallout and strikes out on her own. As one circumstance leads to another, Robin will find herself unable to let go of the past, and scared to believe in a better future. Overall the storyline has good continuity, and the author’s attention to detail adds a lot to a basic plot structure. Additionally, the subtle, self-aware observations by the author of typical plot twists that she purposely avoided adds unique humor and displays a refreshing, transparent writing style. The main weakness that keeps this section from a perfect score is the somewhat rushed, Band-aid style ending. In spite of its flaws, this is a unique, enjoyable story that rounds out with an above average score.
Character Development(2.5 points)
Bartels’ character development is also above average. The dialogue between characters is exceptional because it is the core of the developing relationship between the protagonists. Likewise, Robin is the best character because her childhood trauma has lasting effects on her life and shapes who she is as an adult. Additionally, Bartels’ use of first person for Robin adds depth and should be the rule for novels in this genre. (spoiler) In comparison, the weakest part of Robin’s character is the way her long-held trauma seems to be fixed by renewing an old relationship. On a positive note, Peter is a very unique male lead that avoids the usual pitfalls and demonstrates both intelligence and relatability – both hard to find qualities in Christian fiction’s male protagonists. Furthermore, Dawt Pi and Sarah are exceptional minor characters who actually have a real role in the story…and stories of their own! Therefore, Bartels rounds out with an above average score here as well.
Creativity & Originality (1.5 points)
Finally, Bartels earns a full point in creativity for her unique storyline and a half an x-factor point in originality for her great characters and dialogue sequences. This being said, we feel that her novel would make an excellent Christian drama film that brought to light everyday trauma(s) that people deal with throughout life and the affect this has on their decisions and relationships. The screenwriter would need to alter very little, as the novel is already written like a screenplay. The main thing to focus on here would be an excellent cast. We hope that a budding or established Christian filmmaker will recognize the great potential this novel has to become a film.