Theresa Harvard Johnson

The Picture by Steven Haner
Book Review by Theresa Harvard Johnson

Side Note: In Voices of Christ, we refer to fiction novels as spirit-breathed “parables.”

As a mother with a child diagnosed with a disability, I was instantly captivated by the parable, The Picture by Steven Haner. In the spiritual environment that I had grown accustomed to over the years, diagnosis of sickness and disease bordered around a belief that acknowledging the situation, seeking treatment or assistance indicated a lack of faith or trust. This religious approach offered little if any practical advice, insight, compassion or understanding for parents, like my husband and I, who face real and relevant challenges with their children. Challenges that require faith and wisdom, and medically directed guidance. I am hereby thankful to God for occupational therapists, speech therapy and other services provided to my son.

Haner shares a simplistic story of parents who are using their daughter’s love for drawing with crayons to lovingly and patiently help her unlock and release the darkness, fear and pain caused by the disability. The main character in this book, a little girl named Kaitlyn, has agreed to help her father create a very important and special picture that takes them on an unforgettable journey of confrontation, faith and healing.


What’s interesting about this novel is that it not only walks us through art therapy with Kaitlyn; but the book itself is also therapeutic without any of the medical, spiritual or obvious advice giving content or writing styles that tend to make their way into storylines. The reader is literally learning from the lives and actions of the characters.

I must admit that my synopsis of The Picture is subjective to my family’s journey through similar circumstances. While this book would definitely appeal teens (between 13 and 17), I am reviewing it from an adult or more mature perspective. In addition, I chose to focus on the spiritual depth of what was written. When you read this book, you will clearly understand why I wrote this little explanation.


I must also say that there is not a single moment in the midst of reading that the author preaches, drown us out the reader with medical terms, becomes preachy or even conveys the weight of their belief. It is truly a fun novel with a huge punch. The reader will comes to know Kaitlyn, the depths of this family’s love for one another and how critically important it is to focus on a child’s strengths in the midst of a diagnosis.


I completed the novel affirmed in the choices my husband and I have made with our child. I was reminded of the great value of celebrating every victory – not just the big ones. Why? Well, victory is like a flight of stairs. Each knew one takes you further and farther than you could imagine.


In The Picture, Haner painted a beautiful picture of what can happen when we focus on capabilities versus disabilities.


I don’t want to spoil the story, but on Haner’s website he indicates that this book is a “Delightful alternative to vampires, werewolves and wizards.” In the novel, Kaitlyn was tormented by a nightmare – which is a symbol of the darkness that she seeks to overcome. The book cover, in part, is representative of that journey.



The Picture by Steven Haner

Perfect Paperback: 153 pages

Publisher: Golden Thread Publishing, Atlanta Georgia; First edition

ISBN-10: 1604450630

ISBN-13: 978-1604450637

Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.2 x 0.6 inches



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