Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Book Review: Missing Max

As part of the blog review team for Oasis Audio, I had the opportunity to listen to Missing Max by Karen Young.  The audio is read by Laural Merlington, who did a fantastic job with the voices, especially differentiating the many Louisiana female voices.

The basic plot is that a six month old baby, Max, is kidnapped at Mardi Gras while momentarily in the care of his older sister, Melanie.  Fast forward six months, and Kyle and Jane Madison are trying to cope, as is Melanie, but everything is falling apart.  Things get miserable, and they only get worse.  The family members are all in pain, are all pushing each other away, and are all trying to cope in ways that aggravate everyone else.  Everything that can possibly go wrong does.

I think the book did a fabulous job of showing the stress and strain that a tragedy can bring to a family. Particularly in the first half of the book, it was fairly clear that everyone in the family shared in the blame for the family turmoil.  I love how the main characters were fleshed out, and many of the secondary characters were made very real as well.

I truly liked other touches of reality.  That being a Christian doesn't mean that your kids will always behave.  That becoming a Christian doesn't mean your problems vanish.  That actions do have consequences, and sometimes some pretty far-reaching consequences at that. 

I seem to have issues with most modern fiction, and this book was no exception.  Mostly, the issues were relatively minor, but they include:
  • Why do the primary characters all have to be super-model material or ruggedly handsome?  Can't the main characters be merely attractive?  Ever?  I'd find it easier to relate to Jane if she wasn't drop-dead gorgeous.
  • More bothersome to me was the idea hinted at repeatedly that everything happens for a reason, and that God must have a purpose in the abduction and abuse of a baby, though we may never find out what that purpose is.
  • Alongside that, one thing I did find very frustrating is that when Jane is trying to find a reason for this awful tragedy, she just doesn't get any satisfying answers from anyone.  "I don't know why bad things happen to good people," is about the best she hears.  Unfortunately, that probably is realistic.  I wanted someone, at some time, to point out that bad things happen because sin entered the world, not because God enjoys tormenting babies.  And that God can bring some good out of pretty horrible circumstances, but it doesn't mean that God wants people to behave so abominably. 
I enjoyed the book, and I do recommend it, though it is not necessarily something to be listening to while little ears might overhear.  There are some really tough issues, obviously, but it did get me to think about what is -- and isn't -- important in life.  And it got me thinking about how others are reacting to my actions and my words, not to my intentions. One tragedy after another makes this book sound rather depressing, but it is actually fairly uplifting.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this audiobook free from Oasis Audio as part of their Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Jordan Smith said...

Very thoughtful review, thanks!

Unknown said...

Nice job on this review.

Anyway, I'm stopping by from the TOS Crew to let you know that your blog is included int his week's Blog Walk.

Have a blessed week!