Friday, December 14, 2012

Review: Need You Now

By Beth Wiseman

Popular Amish author, Beth Wiseman, turns to a different type of novel with Need You Now.  This contemporary novel delves into the husband/wife relationship, the teenage use of cutting, attraction outside of marriage, denial, lies and guilt - all capably dealt with in the light of God's grace.

Need You Now revolves around the seemingly "perfect" Henderson family, who have recently moved from Houston to the small rural town of Round Top, Texas - wanting a better environment in which to raise their three teenagers.  Brad has a lengthy commute and works long hours as he seeks partnership in his firm.  While Chad, Grace and Ansley are still adjusting to the move, Darlene decides to take a job outside the home, and the "perfect" family image begins to show cracks.

I've always enjoyed women's fiction, and Beth Wiseman's writing compares favorably to popular authors of that genre in the general market.  My attention was held from the beginning, but after about halfway, the book was hard to walk away from.

Characters were flawed and often struggled with issues in their lives.  For instance, Darlene wrestles with her reasoning for going to work:  "She could say it was for independence - partly true.  And she could say the extra income would be nice - also true.  But deep down, she wanted Brad to be proud of her.  He'd never given her any reason to think that he wasn't proud of everything she'd accomplished as a homemaker - and maybe it was her own hang-up - but the feeling was still there. . . . All she'd ever wanted to be was a good wife and mother.  Was it so wrong to seek just a little bit of independence outside of those two roles?  Apparently so."

Fifteen-year-old Grace, incapable of expressing her emotions, turns to cutting as a way of release.  "She wanted to be the 'good child,' so she handled her own problems, never dumped her worries on her parents, and made good grades."

When Grace's cutting problem is discovered, Darlene seeks professional help, while Brad wants to believe that Grace will never do it again.  "His fears matched his wife's, but he didn't want his daughter's reputation ruined in this small town if there wasn't going to be another incident. . . . But he also had to admit, her actions made him feel like he'd failed her somehow.  He couldn't understand why anyone would inflict pain on themselves unless there was something seriously wrong with them mentally, and that thought terrified him.  He was hoping this would just go away on its own."

Dave, the widowed father of an autistic child that Darlene teaches, was a very caring father, yet he seemed morally weak in his pursuit of Darlene.

Need You Now is an uplifting novel, but not every storyline comes to a neat conclusion, and that wouldn't be appropriate for a novel of this type.  However, there were a few things that I wondered about.

-- Some of the problems in their marriage seemed to come from Brad's long work hours and daily commute.  Would there be any change in the future? 
-- When the therapist revealed that Grace was worried about her parents' marriage, Brad refused to consider counseling.  Did he ever reconsider?
-- Darlene quit her job because of Grace's problem, and maybe guilt played a part also.  Did she no longer have the desire to work outside the home?

I think there was a little too much going on in this novel - more people with problems than could be developed with depth - but I certainly enjoyed Need You Now and am eager to read more by Beth Wiseman.

This book was provided by Thomas Nelson Publishers through BookSneeze in exchange for my honest review.

Beth Wiseman's website:

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