Theresa Harvard Johnson

Reviewed by Theresa Harvard Johnson

I rarely read books that are classified as Christian fiction.

It is not that I do not like the genre. I simply find myself frustrated with the caliber of content categorized as "Christ-centered" that, quite frankly, is nothing more than main-stream fiction repackaged in church scenes and familiar dialogue here and there that has nothing to offer me in my quest to fan the flames of my faith, even in the midst of an entertaining read. I have often been left feeling extremely deceived by what I have purchased thinking it was Christian. So, I have learned to limit my "fiction" intake to the occasional novel recommended only by my closest, most trusted friends.

I found safe passage for my soul in The Carpenter's Princess by Tanya Marie Lewis.

Lewis's superb storytelling takes readers intimately into the life of Christ-loving Malena Dawson, a young girl who buries her grief deep within her after her father's sudden death. Readers follow Malena into adulthood where she abandons her childhood upbringing and becomes a stranger to herself and those around her. We watch Malena struggle with her identity, and self-sabotaging behaviors that threaten to keep her from ever experiencing healing, freedom, joy and true love.

One of the most refreshing aspects of The Carpenter's Princess is that the main character is believable, relatable. I would be the first to admit that I saw my younger self in this character many, many times over. Our poor choices may have been different, but the mind-set, emotions and internal conflict are nearly the same. I believe others would agree with this statement concerning themselves. By opening a window into Malena's life, Lewis reveals just how easy it is for a person who knows the love of Christ to lose themselves in a  raging sea of trauma and pain; and to get so far off-path that it seems almost impossible to find that single point of return. And like Malena, readers may find themselves standing at a similar crossroad asking: "Am I worth the trouble? Can I really turn my life around? Can I recover all that has been lost?"

Though The Carpenter's Princess is indeed a bold Christian novel, the story of Malena is told in a funny, friendly, non-churchy, non-preachy way. Malena's story is presented so that the witness of Christ is revealed simplistically through the pages. Needless to say, Lewis is an excellent writer whose text flows beautifully. I wasn't confused, lost and nor did I have to keep trailing backwards through chapters to figure out what was happening. (Yep, I've had to do that in several Christian fiction books I have read.) In addition, there was such a balance in the midst of the storytelling as other characters were introduced and their roles defined in Malena's life. There was just enough narration and quality character building to remain solidly involved in the main character's life. I did not feel as if something was left out, disjointed or left unfinished. Once I started reading, I could not put the book down until I completed it. For me, that is a big deal!

I'm not an easy reader to please when it comes to fiction!

Finally, readers need to know that Lewis brings forth some serious discussions about sin and the pain it causes (no sugar coating here), while effortlessly revealing God's grace, forgiveness and most importantly, his unrelenting love. The main character also has a love interest that plays an extremely significant role in the book. I did not dwell on this primarily because, for me, this role remains secondary to the internal truths Malena discovers concerning herself as the story concludes. This, in my opinion, is what marks the climax of her story. It is the point of resolve - within herself and without any outside influence - that changes everything in her journey, and that has the potential to become a point of awakening for readers.

The Carpenter's Princess reveals the very depth of God's love for us. I highly recommend this book. Its uncompromising witness is powerful.


The Carpenter's Princess
By Tanya Marie Lewis

  • Paperback: 188 pages
  • Publisher: Sufficient Grace Publishing (July 8, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0977736032
  • ISBN-13: 978-0977736034
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches







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