Thursday, October 11, 2012

Excellent Theme, But the Characters Don't Live up to the Challenge

Beth Borzoi makes a mistake. She tries to help her friends get enough money to pay a vet to save their horse's eye by stealing a show saddle from one of the ranch hands. They decide to reward her by allowing her to ride a champion racehorse they don't own at night in a dark field. All goes well until a gray wolf attacks the horse. As a result of the attack, the horse has to be put down. The owner brings a lawsuit which threatens to ruin the Borzoi's and take their ranch. Beth prays for a miracle, but although she can apparently heal animals, her prayers seem less successful when trying to save her family.

The theme of this book is excellent. God does listen, but he chooses how he will respond to our prayers. Sometimes the miracles that happen aren't what we expect, and we find them difficult to understand and deal with. The is an excellent message. However, I found the characters poorly conceived to carry off the strength of the theme. Beth is twenty-two years old. She's lived on a ranch all her life, is an excellent horse woman, and wants to become a vet. The idea that someone with this background would leap on a strange racehorse in the dead of night in a field she is unfamiliar with is not only strange, it's unbelievable. On top of that, I found it amazing that she would steal a saddle and give it to some supposed friends who haven't been taking care of their horse the way they should have. Throughout the book, I found this unbelievable quality in the characters. Rose, Beth's mother, seems to be unusually harsh not only with her daughter, but in the way she treated her father. Some of the minor characters, like Wally who loves to dig holes, were delightful, but the main characters simply didn't ring true.

I found the book hard to enjoy because the characters were so jarring in relation to an excellent message. I also felt that the book left too many things up in the air at the end, possibly because the author had no good way to tie up the threads of the plot. To avoid spoilers, I won't go into specifics, but everything seems to turn out well for Beth while leaving the main issue of how the family would save the ranch completely up in the air. I can recommend the book for it's message, but the poorly drawn characters detract from it.

I reviewed this book as part of the Thomas Nelson Booksneeze Program.