By: Karen Kingsbury
Even Now by Karen Kingsbury tackles some tough issues in modern society. It is well written with gripping characters. It is Christian fiction that doesn’t come across as old fashioned or outdated. The characters don’t live in a perfect world. They aren’t saints and they don’t always do the right thing. In fact, bad choices are what lead to the original problem and a lack of faith perpetuates the tragedy.
Lauren Anderson and Shane Galanter grew up together. They were the children of best friends Angela and Sheila. The families were close for many years. The husbands shared a business, the wives shared friendship and secrets and they all shared dinners, vacations and a church home. Lauren and Shane were friends as they went off to elementary school. They later shared their first kiss and eventually became high school sweethearts. They had their whole future planned out. It was almost time for their senior year and then it would be high school graduation. This would be followed by summer jobs before heading off to college. After college they would have their wedding, settle into careers and then start a family. That was exactly what they wanted and what everyone who knew them expected. When Lauren turned up pregnant at the age of 17 their plans went askew. They shared the news with their horrified parents who worried a bit too much about appearances and their own standing in the community. The teens vowed to get married and raise the baby but it seemed both families were against that. Both sets of parents intervened and worked to separate the two. Where lies and trickery begin heartache and loss are sure to follow. This is a story of lost love, lost family and lost faith. It is also a story of true love, finding family and rekindling faith.
Shane gave Lauren an engagement ring and they vowed to love each other forever no matter what. Lauren toyed with the idea of adoption but as the new life grew within her she decided to keep the baby. Shane chose the name Emily for their baby girl. When Lauren was eight months into the pregnancy Shane’s parents forced him to move with them across the country. In the age before cell phones or my space the teens lost track of each other because both families moved at the same time. As agreed ahead of time neither set of parents registered a listed phone number. Lauren and Shane spent countless hours trying to reconnect. Once baby Emily was born Lauren took off on a cross country trip to locate Shane. When the baby got sick Lauren reluctantly turned around and went home. She sat by the hospital bed and prayed for a miracle. After an exhausting night she was given incorrect information and believed that Emily’s tiny body was not able to fight off the illness and that she did not survive. Lauren felt like a failure as a mother yet at the same time she was furious with her own parents. Rather than turn to them for comfort and what would have been the truth about her baby she bolts. She felt she could never forgive their deceptions and lies, which led to the loss of Shane. Now she also blamed them in part for the loss of Emily. She also blamed God for not answering her desperate bedside prayer. The second time she left town she never looked back. She headed off to find Shane but along the way she changed her name, graduated from college and became a journalist. She made her own way in the world for the next twenty years. It is grown up Emily raised by her grandparents who works to find her parents and reunite them with her grandparents and with each other.
The reconciliation with her parents is bittersweet due to a serious illness of one family member. Lauren’s reunion with Shane was anticipated and hoped for but not without its problems. As a journalist Lauren spoke out against the war while Shane trained fighter pilots for the war. In their time apart Shane found a deep faith while Lauren turned her back on God. Their love remained but they had changed. Could that young love possibly sustain them now that they were on different sides in a war?
The story has some twists and turns that will keep the readers guessing. There are some tender moments that endear the characters. The author interjects scripture, which I found comforting. The story introduces opposing views on War but not all readers will agree with the political viewpoint expressed in the book. In addition there were a few scenarios that seemed to be a bit of a stretch. Lauren’s parents had searched for her for 20 years and had even hired private detectives all to no avail. Then suddenly Emily finds her mother almost effortlessly with the use of an old journal and the internet. Skeptics might wonder how Shane, a top fighter pilot and Lauren, a journalist for Time magazine never stumbled upon any information about each that would have lead them back together. Although I kind of wondered about this after the fact, it didn’t strike me as a problem while reading because the author did a nice job of detailing why they didn’t reconnect. Miscommunication, lack of information and multiple moves helped the story unfolded in a believable way. I guess you could chalk it up to destiny. We aren’t the master’s of our own fate. We can work and scheme and try but often things don’t fall into place until it is the right time. I find this to be true in my life and it was true for Shane and Lauren.
Even Now is a story of forgiveness and the power of love. As the book ends the story continues. The characters are on the road to relationship renewal but lingering issues remain even into the last chapter. Story events do not reach a conclusion, which leaves readers eager to read the sequel Ever After.