Darlene and Brad Henderson have just moved with their three teenagers from Houston to the small town of Round Top, Texas, in hopes of leaving big city life --- and all of its dangerous trappings --- behind. Seventeen-year-old son Chad had gotten involved with the wrong crowd, and Darlene and Brad are anxious for a fresh start. They soon discover, however, that danger has a way of creeping up on you when you least expect it --- no matter where you live.
"...refreshingly honest and real, loaded with issues you find in Christian homes around the world... For those who prefer heart-touching, real-life fiction, with a bit of conviction thrown in, NEED YOU NOW will not disappoint."
The story opens with a bang, as Darlene confronts an intruder in her new home. This opening scene also brings with it a touch of humor, and introduces Layla, the beautiful, forty-something single woman who lives in the mansion next door. Layla is an interesting character, with emotional baggage, a sometimes overbearing personality, and obvious resentment towards God. Darlene extends grace and friendship to Layla when she needs it the most. And Layla has the opportunity to return the favor later on.
Now that the Hendersons are settling in, Darlene wonders if it might be time to look for a job. The kids are older, and despite Brad’s insistence that he can provide for them financially, Darlene admits she wants something that will give her a sense of purpose outside of the home. With Brad’s blessing, she applies for --- and is offered --- a job working with special needs children, and is assigned to work one-on-one with a girl named Cara, whom she quickly comes to adore. Before long, though, Cara’s single father begins to develop feelings for Darlene that go beyond the parent/teacher boundaries. And while Brad is supportive of Darlene’s decision to take an outside job, the time she’s spending away from her family adds tension to their relationship.
Each member of the Henderson family is dealing with some sort of challenge as they adjust to their recent move. Besides experiencing mild frustration regarding Darlene’s new job, Brad has been working longer hours as a CPA and is keeping a secret from his wife. Oldest son Chad may have left behind the bad crowd he hung out with in Houston, but he’s been seeing a girl his parents think is wonderful, though she isn’t as innocent as they believe. Middle child Grace wants to be perfect for everyone. She discovers that cutting brings great relief for the emotional pain and stress she feels, but doesn’t know how to express. Grace also befriends Skylar, a former cutter, whose Goth style slightly concerns Brad and Darlene. The only one who doesn’t seem affected by the move is youngest child Ansley, a typical 12-year-old with a fun-loving spirit, whose main quirk is refusing to allow anyone to cook the eggs laid by her beloved chickens.
NEED YOU NOW is refreshingly honest and real, loaded with issues you find in Christian homes around the world: marital trust and temptation, teenage alcohol and drug use, cutting, pushing the boundaries. Each of these topics are handled in a sensitive yet realistic way, bringing awareness not only to the problem, but also to the solution, which is, of course, God. Author Beth Wiseman does a fantastic job of weaving the element of faith within the story without slamming the message down the reader’s throat. She shows how Christians are not immune to temptation and struggles. And they are just as susceptible to falling. Sometimes God uses those negative circumstances and trials to get our attention, and ultimately bring us closer to Him. That is demonstrated wonderfully through the characters in this book.
Wiseman is better known for her Amish novels, and it’s hard to believe that this is her first contemporary. For those who prefer heart-touching, real-life fiction, with a bit of conviction thrown in, NEED YOU NOW will not disappoint.
Reviewed by Lynda Lee Schab on May 23, 2012