My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Collin Walker, a twenty-six year-old youth worker on the hard downtown streets of Oakton, Ohio, has come to West Virginia to an extreme sports challenge camp. Single and single-minded, she is there for one purpose: to show her ward, Robbie, that there is more to life than the ‘hood.’ Collin has no way of knowing that the week ahead will force her to face the river she has feared since childhood, a murderous assailant, and perhaps the greatest challenge of all: the possibility of love.
The first night there she meets the twenty-eight year-old camp maintenance man, Jeff Farrell. His easy banter, gentle humor and quick wit intrigue Collin. Through the week, as their paths cross over and over – and over and over – Collin finds herself drawn to the man as none before. Yet for all his openness, Jeff seems to be keeping secrets. Though he shares freely about his background, he hedges when pressed for details. He talks with familiarity about the camp owner but refuses to reveal the man’s identity. Collin suspects there is more going on than she is being told.
Then Robbie chooses to take the class in white water rafting and asks Collin to come along. Collin must summon all her faith to face her fear of the river. But when a serial killer makes her his next target will she still depend on faith to see her through? Can she “walk the talk” when the challenges of the week spiral out of her control?
3/5 stars for River of Grace by Colleen K. Snyder. According to the Goodreads star system, that means “I liked it.”
In my subjective opinion, River of Grace is considerably compelling. I am impressed with the way the author builds suspense by giving a secret to each of the two main characters and using it to tease the reader until it is finally disclosed. I also like the strong links between the protagonist’s demeanor and her backstory, which is revealed bit by bit at gripping intervals. Not having a phobia of my own, I don’t relate well to the protagonist’s extreme fear of rivers. That fear being core to the story, made her reactions feel a little exaggerated and phony to me. On the other hand, perhaps readers who are plagued by fears of their own would find River of Grace all the more compelling for it. The writing style is witty and conversational. I don’t think this is an objective con, but it may put off some readers depending on their preferences.
With regards to its spiritual value, River of Grace is right on par with most of the “Christian” books I’ve read. I greatly appreciate the references to Scripture as well as the biblical themes. Among these are trust, God’s love, and of course – grace. Some of the analogies used throughout gave me a fresh perspective to the gospel. That said, the spiritual encouragement I received from this read was not particularly outstanding, meaning it didn’t have the game-changing, transformational wow-factor that would set it above most books I’ve read.
In summary, I found River of Grace to be considerably compelling and it offered some value to my spiritual well-being. I would recommend it to readers who have extreme fears and who aren’t disturbed by violence or romance (see note on content below).
A Note on Content
- Violence: Part of the plot involves a serial killer. His attacks and the counterattacks of his victims are described in considerable detail. Also described are some gruesome details of his signature methods.
- Romance: The plot involves a romance between two believers who, over the course of the book, meet, grow to love each other and essentially mutually agree to marry each other by the end. The romance involves kissing (forehead, cheek, hands, lips) and hugging.
- Magic: There is no magic.
- Language: Harsh language includes “idiot,” “moron,” “stupid,” and the like. God’s name is not used in vain.
Would you consider reading River of Grace? Have you read any books that involve a serial killer? If you have, how did the author deal with it and what impression did it leave on you?