Can a young boy and a young girl fall in love during grade school, carry that romance into high school and have it last? Or are those romantic feelings passed off as "puppy love?" The answer to these questions contains one of the themes of this page-turning novel from Karen Kingsbury.
The prologue begins with a young woman, Emily Anderson, wondering about her parents. Because her grandparents raised her, Emily has no memories of her mom or dad. When her grandfather finds a box full of her mother's writings, Emily begins to learn some answers.
In the first chapter, readers meet Shane Galanter and Lauren Anderson, who are inseparable whether at church or at school. Their emotional love becomes physical and Lauren is pregnant. As strong Christians, they never consider an abortion. Because Lauren and Shane are 17 and soon entering their last year of high school, suddenly their parents are entangled in the future of their relationship. Samuel Galanter and Bill Anderson are partners and close friends at a Chicago bank. Their wives, Sheila Galanter and Angela Anderson, are also close friends. Lauren and Shane are desperate to keep their child and stay together, yet their parents are determined to separate the couple.
With his limited money of $380 Shane goes to a jewelry store and purchases a promise ring for Lauren. Inside the words are engraved Even Now as a summary of his feelings about this season of life.
Because the two sets of parents doubt that a young couple's relationship can last, they take their own drastic actions to sell their business and homes. The Andersons move to Wheaton, the Chicago suburb, while the Galanters move to southern California. Without any financial resources, Lauren and Shane have no choice but to go in separate directions, and they promise to find each other.
Lauren has her baby --- a girl whom she names Emily. Not able to reach Shane on the phone (another blockage from their parents), Lauren wraps Emily in a blanket, takes all of her money and drives toward California. During the trip, a slight cough from baby Emily becomes a grave illness and Lauren is forced to return to her parents' home. Lauren and her mom take the baby to the hospital.
Exhausted from the drive and emotion throughout the night, Lauren prays for a miracle. She swaps places with her mother and goes home to sleep. Later, when Lauren calls the hospital, she reaches a nurse who miscommunicates that the baby is gone. Emotionally destroyed, Lauren gets in her car and drives west toward California. Changing her name to Lauren Gibbs, she carves out a new life while continually searching for Shane --- and never finding him. Ultimately Lauren becomes a well-respected correspondent for Time magazine, while Shane becomes a flight instructor training Navy fighter pilots and living in Reno, Nevada.
These tight storylines are drawn together into a touching drama that makes for quick reading. The resolution on a number of fronts will tug at your heartstrings and reveals why Karen Kingsbury is such a popular Christian fiction writer.
While these characters are entwined in some complex difficulties, ultimately peace is the theme of EVEN NOW. As world events and, at times, personal events spin out of our control, a lifesaving relationship with Jesus Christ is our only means for a lasting peace. On a number of levels, this excellent book is well worth reading.
Reviewed by W. Terry Whalin on February 7, 2006