Keira Johnston’s husband, Bjorn, has just given her a wonderful gift for their 25th wedding anniversary: a trip to Norway to visit her ancestral land. There’s only one problem: Keira needs her birth certificate to obtain a passport, and she has no idea where it is. She assumes it’s somewhere in her mother’s house --- the house Keira still hasn’t gone through since her mom’s death. So, with the help of her sister-in-law, Leah, she starts searching and eventually finds it. When she reads the document over, she’s shocked to learn that the name of her father is not Kenneth Sorrenson, as she believed all her life. The name of her father is: Unknown.
"Keira’s pregnancy is handled well, and the emotions experienced by each family member are realistic... The faith element is strong, and God certainly has ways of touching people through stories just like this one."
Meanwhile, Keira’s brother Marcus and his wife Leah have gotten some devastating news of their own: their 17-year-old daughter, Kirsten, is pregnant. An unplanned teenage pregnancy is never easy, but Marcus is a pastor. What will his congregation think? Kirsten and her boyfriend, Jose, are both Christians and regret their poor choice of breaking their vow to wait until marriage. But it’s a little too late. Now they must decide what they’re going to do about it.
From the title and synopsis of this book, I had a very different expectation for REUNION. I love a good conflict, and the description makes it seem as if secrets may tear the family apart, but I never felt that type of suspense at all. The story also really has nothing to do with a reunion, except for the fact that Keira is planning one. It is more about two difficult blows that this family receives --- the news about Keira’s father, and the pregnancy of her niece.
I’ll admit I had a difficult time getting into the story. I have never read anything by Lauraine Snelling, but apparently, she is more known for her historical novels. That makes sense because, although it takes place in a contemporary setting, REUNION has an old-fashioned feel to it, especially in dialogue. At times, the sentences were not logical at all, and there was quite a bit of telling instead of showing, which could turn you off if you prefer a quicker, more page-turning read. Another thing that confused me was why Keira never needed her birth certificate before this. It is mentioned that she used her Baptismal certificate to obtain her driver’s license (which could be legitimate, though I’ve never heard of that), but what about when she got married? Granted, not all states require a birth certificate for a marriage license, but it seems a little odd that she’s 50 years old and never asked her mother for a copy or needed it for any reason.
On a positive note, I did enjoy the overall concept of the story and the close-knit family. Keira’s pregnancy is handled well, and the emotions experienced by each family member are realistic, even though it’s somewhat tough to understand how the idea of abortion could be considered, especially in light of the family’s faith and strong pro-life involvement. But the overwhelming message was one of mercy, forgiveness and grace, as well as the importance of family support in difficult times.
When I learned that REUNION was inspired by the author’s true-life story, it made me a little more sympathetic. From the other reviews out there, it’s clear that it has the potential to encourage others who have been affected by family secrets and possibly even bring a bit of healing. So while the writing is not outstanding, it doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy the book or that the content isn’t relevant. The faith element is strong, and God certainly has ways of touching people through stories just like this one.
Reviewed by Lynda Lee Schab on August 15, 2012