Sherwood Pictures, the same production company that brought us the movies Facing the Giants and Fireproof, has created yet another family-focused film. Courageous, opening nationwide on September 30th, centers on the importance of fathers stepping into the leadership position God intends them to hold. Most Christians --- probably most people in general --- would agree that fathers should be a prominent part of their children’s lives, even if our society doesn’t reflect it.
Perhaps due to the success of the Fireprooof screenplay novelization, author Randy Alcorn agreed to write the novel version of Courageous before the film is even released. Alcorn is a bestselling author and was an excellent choice for this project. The novel is based on the screenplay, but also contains back story and details not included in the movie. This review is for the novel only.
The story begins with a bang, as Nathan Hayes, a police officer relocating to Albany, New York, from Atlanta, Georgia, puts his life on the line for his infant son. While at a gas station, Nathan’s car gets hijacked with Jackson in the backseat. Nathan courageously --- and instinctively --- grabs hold of the car and hangs on as the hijacker speeds away. This sets the stage for the theme of the entire book: a father willing to sacrifice himself for his child. We discover early on that Nathan’s main struggle as a father is with his teenage daughter, Jade, who is currently drawn to a boy who may not have her best interests at heart.
Another main character is Corporal Adam Mitchell. Adam is married with two children --- a nine-year-old daughter he adores and a teenage son he can’t relate to. When tragedy strikes, Adam is faced with the fact that he hasn’t been the ideal father. It takes this traumatic event to spark a new desire to become the best father he can be, even if it requires him to step out of his comfort zone more than ever before.
Several other members of law enforcement round out the cast of characters, including FIREPROOF hero Caleb Holt. Each character has a unique and interesting story. There’s Nathan’s partner, bachelor David Thompson, who reveals a secret from his past that plays a huge part in his future. Then there’s Shane Fuller, Adam’s partner and brother in Christ, and Sergeant Brad Bronson, a brash and cynical atheist, who just might have a heart after all.
Non-law enforcement characters comprise of Javy, the one character who happened to have the perfect example of an earthly father. Tom Lyman is Adam’s Godly mentor. Karla and Victoria are the wives of Nathan and Adam, respectively. And finally, several teenagers play a part in the drug storyline that comes to an exciting climax near the end of the book.
Although a quick and easy read, one thing that hindered the flow a bit was the point of view. While scenes from most books are normally written from one character’s perspective, in this book, many scenes jump from one person to the next. It’s done well, so it isn’t necessarily a terrible thing, but for me it was a little distracting and made it more difficult to connect with the characters. There seems to be no reason for the continual switching, but it might have to do with the fact that the novel is based on the screenplay, where multiple perspectives are always being depicted.
That said, the plot itself is fast-paced and compelling, with plenty of action and suspense. Scene breaks are frequent, which help to maintain interest. It contains humor, drama, and lots of tenderness, too, so keep the tissues handy.
Bible verses and Christian-ese is a huge part of this book. While it certainly will appeal to Christians, the fatherhood theme can be universally embraced. The message of COURAGEOUS is to be applauded. Today, more than ever, we need men to step up to the front door and take on the leadership role they were created for. As quoted in the book, “Any fool can father a child, but it takes courage to be a child's father.”
Something to think about today.
Reviewed by Lynda Schab on November 13, 2011