Monday, January 18, 2010
Healing Sands by Nancy Rue & Stephen Arterburn
Close your eyes and recall the sand of a beach or desert. You run your fingers through the sand. What’s it feel like? Gritty? Scratchy? Because Nancy and Stephen’s books are so real, you may find some of the story elements a bit abrasive, but only because it’s sand paper that smoothes away imperfections.
That’s one of the reasons I love their Sullivan Crisp stories—these are life-changing books.
Okay, first things first. Here’s the back cover copy:
Her life was spinning out of control. A mix of anger and emptiness defined her. Desperate for true peace, she headed to a place of rest - the healing sands.
Ryan Coe feels lost - her marriage is over, her kids are living with their dad, her God-life is silent, and her patience is practically non-existent. To top it off, her once exciting job as a photojournalist has been reduced to taking pictures of enchilada festivals and B-level actors. But when she arrives at the scene of a crime and sees her son's face through her zoom lens, her world crashes. Her only mission - to find out who really did this and why they framed her.
But before she can help anyone. Ryan's got to get her anger in check. She turns to Sullivan Crisp's Healing Choices clinic, but even that doesn't go according to plan. Quirky and unusual don't even begin to describe Sully and she soon realizes that he isn't the quick-fix therapist she was hoping for. Between his unorthodox counseling and a group of women who are the first real friends she's had in a long time, Ryan begins to realize it's not control she's for, but something much more powerful.
And now, my review:
At first, I wondered about the naming of a female lead as “Ryan.” Sure, a lot of names can go both ways, but not this one. Not for me. Until I read on and discovered the very poignant characterization element the authors were trying to get to here. You’ll have to read the book to find out. :-)
When I read a book, it’s impossible to not dissect it. I study novels. So, as a writer, I have to say Nancy’s skills are amazing. Plotting move swiftly along. Characterization makes you care for her characters. There were mystery elements in this novel, and I loved gathering clues to solve the crimes. The use of two different POVs is great—first person for Ryan and third whenever we’re with Sully. That takes skill to carry off. Nancy excels.
I related with Ryan in some areas, though not all. The main theme in this book is anger. And though I couldn’t relate entirely to Ryan’s rage, I found myself in the pages anyway.
If you’ve read any of this series before, I have a question for you: What’s not to love about Sullivan Crisp?? All the scenes of therapy, or even Sullivan’s own life thrown into the books, are rich with helpful meanings. And I never felt preached to, though the final summation scene did seem a touch forced. Generally, though, because I have an interest in psychology, I just ate up the scenes between Sully and Ryan. They're so well crafted and chock full of insights.
The authors included themes on parenting and marriage, legal issues, and other mental health concerns besides rage. Their spiritual theme of surrender to God will speak to believers as well. Readers will find something of interest to them; they’ll learn something and be challenged, all in the context of a fantastic story well penned.