Friday, February 14, 2014

Francine Rivers's Bridge to Haven ~ Reviewed

By Francine Rivers
Published by Tyndale
488 Pages

Back Cover: To those who matter in 1950s Hollywood, Lena Scott is the hottest rising star to hit the silver screen since Marilyn Monroe. Few know her real name is Abra. Even fewer know the price she’s paid to finally feel like she’s somebody.

To Pastor Ezekiel Freeman, Abra will always be the little girl who stole his heart the night he found her, a wailing newborn abandoned under a bridge on the outskirts of Haven. Zeke and his son, Joshua—Abra’s closest friend—watch her grow into an exotic beauty. But Zeke knows the circumstances surrounding her birth etched scars deep in her heart, scars that leave her vulnerable to a fast-talking bad boy who proclaims his love and lures her to Tinseltown. Hollywood feels like a million miles from Haven, and naive Abra quickly learns what’s expected of an ambitious girl with stars in her eyes. But fame comes at an awful price. She has burned every bridge to get exactly what she thought she wanted. Now, all she wants is a way back home.

Review: Francine Rivers is an author I make time to read no matter what I’m doing. I’m thankful for the review copy I received which says it’s a “re-imagined” prodigal son parable crafting this novel set in Iconio 1950’s Hollywood.”

I was quickly emotional invested in these characters from the start. Young Abra had more to overcome than most. My heart strings ached for her situation. “The circumstances surrounding her birth have etched scars deep in Abra’s heart, scars that leave her vulnerable to a fast-talking charmer who leads her to tinseltown.”

Friends try to speak into her life, “Guard your heart. It affects everything you do in this life.”

Abra replies, “I’ve been hurting my whole life. I can’t remember a time when I haven’t felt like I wasn’t enough.”

Her piano teacher pipes up to say, “I’ve never lied to you, and I never will. I know it’s your choice to believe me or not, but you’d better understand this: what you believe sets the course of your life.”

So, true. Abra was loved by imperfect people. She ran from everyone that loved her along with the only perfect lover of her soul. She’d show them she was somebody worth loving! (She tells herself) Abra finds out quickly nothing is free! Everything has a price. What price would she pay to seek fame and fortune? Would it be worth it in the long run?

I found hope and healing in Abra’s adventure. It drove home the aspect that we can’t save anyone, not even ourselves. That’s God’s job not ours. We can pray for them. Be an example and love them as Jesus would, but in the end they need to find their own way to a personal relationship with Him. This author shows how hard this is for both parties the prodigal and the family waiting for their return. Family and friends want to do more than pray. Instead they hold tight to listening to that still small voice that says for them to “wait on me; I will love them into my arms. Trust me. I created them.”

This story is a compelling drama that takes place in Hollywood when the movie moguls wanted to run their actors and actresses lives. They wanted total control of everything they said, wore and looked like.

It’s also a good one for your book club to read because a prodigal story has touched so many. There are great questions to get discussions rolling. There were parts of this book that were uncomfortable and hard to read but so worth pressing through. All were necessary to the plot just like in her book Redeeming Love.  I enjoyed the author notes where Francine shares why this book was hard for her to write. This is a book you won’t want to miss and won’t soon forget. It’s one that will make you think; give you courage and hope, for no matter what you face. I highly recommend it.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins
Finding Hope Through Fiction blog

Bonus Review:

Francine Rivers is perhaps the best novelist of our time. In Bridge to Haven, she quickly captured me with her characters and pulled me into the story of this prodigal daughter. It's a story you can't forget. I predict it will become a blockbuster likeRedeeming Love. Novel Rocket and I give it our highest recommendation. It's a 5-star must read. Bridge to Haven has been added to my Top Ten for 2014 and My All Time Favorites List. 

Reviewed by: Ane Mulligan, President
Novel Rocket

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