Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Forgiving Hour by Robin Lee Hatcher

Robin Lee Hatcher remains best known for her historical fiction, but recently I downloaded her contemporary novel The Forgiving Hour  throughWPLC, our state library consortium for electronic books. Originally published in 1999, an e-version was republished in 2011.  Despite the decade between publications, the story still reads fresh and topical.

Claire is deeply scared by her husband's Dave's betrayal.  When he later abandons the family, Claire makes her preteen son promise he will never mention Dave's name again.  That is a vow young Michael has no trouble making.  In fact, he also changes his name to Dakota Conway, leaving behind any remnant of connection to his father.  Slowly Claire digs herself out of the financial troubles Dave left behind and builds a safe, comfortable life for herself and her son.  She is relieved when Dakota outgrows the early rebellious teen years, but she never sees the connection between his behavior change and his participation in a local church.  When the young adult Dakota tells his mother that his faith has led him to forgive his father, Claire is hurt. Since neither wants to hurt the other, Claire and son settle into a delicate truce.

A temporary job transfer gives Claire a chance for a new life and possibly a new love, but her guarded heart and an inability to forgive old hurts present formidable barriers   Just as she begins to think she can place the past in perspective, Dakota introduces mom to his fiance.  Sara is several years older than her Dakota, but the couple has decided that age makes no difference to true love.  Once the red-haired beauty is introduced to Claire, both realize that there is a problem much bigger than any age difference, a betrayal that surely no one would expect Claire or Dakota to forgive.

Although I think the plot line is probably unlikely, it certainly challenges us that the call to forgive means to forgive ALL or ANY sins, not just those that we are comfortable with.  Hatcher is a good writer and the way she hits us with the major problem within the first pages of the book and then slowly   rebuilds the past to more clearly define just what is happening between Claire, Dakota and Sara is suspenseful.

Check your libraries to see if they still have a copy of The Forgiving Hour.  For other readers' opinions of this book, check out Goodreads.com.

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