Thursday, October 25, 2007

Robert Elmer's Like Always ~ Reviewed

Like Always: A Novel
Robert Elmer
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (June 19, 2007)
ISBN-10: 1400071658
ISBN-13: 978-1400071654

Merit and Will Sullivan have been married over 20 years when they decide to make a huge change. Will has never been satisfied in his job, and they decide to purchase a derelict resort in Idaho and renovate it. Merit wants Will to be happy, but she’s also afraid. Her constant desire is for things to be “like always.” Besides, their son, Michael, is just returning from service in Iraq and doesn’t want to move to Idaho. He seems to be having some problems adjusting, and he won’t talk about events that may still be haunting him from the war. How can they leave him now?

Still, off they go, and Merit soon finds herself growing to love their new life. Will and their two young daughters also thrive, and even Michael seems more interested in staying at the resort when he meets a nature-loving local girl.

Just as Merit is settling down once more, life takes another unexpected turn. At the age of forty-four, Merit finds herself pregnant. As if that weren’t enough, a routine doctor’s appointment reveals a problem that will require a heart-wrenching decision on the part of Merit and Will. It’s clear that nothing will ever again be like always.

When I started reading this book, I knew the central story was going to be about a middle-aged woman whose unplanned pregnancy throws her life into upheaval. So I thought I knew what to expect as I read. I didn’t. First, the story wasn’t simply about the pregnancy, but about an entire year of change in the lives of this family. The pregnancy wasn’t even an issue until a third of the way through the book. Their struggle with decisions, with trusting God and each other, came into play long before news of the baby. Also, since Merit was forty-four, I thought I knew what the complication would be in her pregnancy. But the doctor’s news turned out to be a surprise, as well.

This book does not supply easy answers or tie everything up into a neat package. As so often happens in real life, the characters end up with more questions for God than they started with, and yet, their faith in Him grows. You may shed some tears if you read Like Always, but you will probably also come to love the Sullivans as I did.

Reviewed by Robin Johns Grant

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