Monday, October 29, 2012

The Reason by William Sirls

Bringing God's word to life in today's world is a basic tenet of contemporary fiction and most readers come away with a warm, fuzzy feeling after reading such titles.  We feel comfortable with the life and faith changes made by the characters and are assured that God has good things in store for their future.  Novels like William Sirls' The Reason moves beyond those comfortable boundaries into a modern setting which is visited by a presence that surely is directly from God.  When miraculous events begin to happen, observers must make the choice to "Just Believe." 

The Reason centers around a small Michigan town and the aftermath of a sudden thunderstorm which splintered the wooden cross outside St. Thomas Church.  When a small boy Alex tells Macey, an oncology doctor at the local hospital, about the cross, she spearheads a group to fix the cross.  Within the group is Kenneth, a carpenter she has just met and who appears to be part of a work crew at the hospital.

As the gathered "cross rescuing" group scatters to take care of repair details, only three are left by the broken cross -- Pastor Jim, the blind minister of the congregation; Charlie, his disabled, mute son; and the unknown carpenter.  Within minutes the scattered group gathers again at the cross to assess the damage and probably to haul away the unfixable structures.  What they find is a perfect cross, complete with fresh lacquer.  What has happened?  Pastor Jim can't say because he didn't see it, although he heard something.  Charlie obviously saw something, but cannot speak.  And Kenneth's only message is "Just Believe."

Uneasy to accept that the group has just seen the product of a miracle, each person within the group comes to some kind of relationship with Kenneth and with God over the ensuring weeks.  As the miracles continue, no one is left untouched by Kenneth's message.  Everyone's faith and resolve will be tested though as young Alex begins to lose his battle against leukemia.  How can this messenger from God stand by as the young boy slips into a coma?  Was his mother tricked when she was told to "just believe?"

I have to admit I am more comfortable with the nice, neat stories of those contemporary novels which portray the characters within the parameters of life as we "see it."  Stories with angelic strangers and miracles reach beyond that safeness, but it is a reach that we need to consider. I always wonder why
God would select a certain little town or group of people to visit, but then isn't that the real miracle of faith - that God choses each of us to love, choses us despite our mistakes and preoccupations and failures? And really miracles happen everyday, probably in every town, but we accept them as the way it was meant to be.  Stories like The Reason highlight who is really behind those happenings and why they happen. 

The story behind The Reason is its own plot of twists, turns, and changes.  Author William Sirls had the idea for a story about a child with leukemia and had sketched out characters and scenes.  When he was sent to prison for money laundering and fraud, Sirls had plenty of time on his hands.  Time to learn about forgiveness, faith, and new chances -- lessons which he translated into his book.
Determined to self-publish the book after his release, Sirls worked on all the details, when miraculously he received an offer from Thomas Nelson Publishing.  Months of fine tuning the book preceded the final release.  I believe Sirls has a real talent, especially in character development.  I can't pick a favorite, but Pastor Jim and Carly stand out.  They go beyond the typical side characters and instead add depth to the story.

I received a copy of this title from BookSneeze for review purposes.  All opinions are mine.  I am so glad for the opportunity to read and review this title since it is the type of book that I usually bypass.
I highly recommend it.  I also recommend a visit to William Sirls' website to learn more about the
author's life journey.

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