OCEANS APART/Karen Kingsbury

Ever since I read Francine Rivers’ Mark of the Lion Trilogy, I began to get interested in Christian fiction. I loved the Mark of the Lion series immensely, this trilogy is actually on top of my favorites shelf. So when the boyfriend suggested I try to read Karen Kingsbury (he might have been researching Christian authors to wow me, haha), I immediately looked for her books in my all-time favorite bookstore, Booksale.

Oceans Apart is the first book by Karen Kingsbury that I bought and read. It is about a seven-year old boy, Max, who lost his mother in a plane crash. The last wish of his mother is that Max shall live with Connor Evans and his family for two weeks. What Max does not know is that Connor is his real father and that he is the product of an illicit affair between his mom, Kiahna, and Connor one stormy night in Honolulu. What will Connor do when he learns about the existence of a son he never knew for the past 8 years? How will he break the news to his wife, Michele, who does not have any idea of his unfaithfulness? How will his two daughters take the news of having a half-brother?

The premise of Oceans Apart is actually nothing new, but before I read the book, I have been interested not on how the story will end (I knew it would have a happy ending, as all Christian fiction books I’ve read often have) but on how the characters will develop throughout the crisis in their lives and eventually come to forgive each other. Yes, forgiveness is the central theme in this book and I love how forgiveness is summed up in this single statement:

            “Love happens when people forgive.”

Oceans Apart contains a simple storyline where a married man had an unplanned illicit affair and decides that not telling his wife about the affair would eventually erase all that happened. But as with real life, every loose end always finds its way to untangle itself and present itself to your face. This is the dilemma Captain Connor Evans finds himself in when he learned about having a son in Honolulu.

What I like about Oceans Apart despite its not-so new storyline is its Christian relevance. Unlike other reviewers who complain about the recurring Christian themes in the story, I do not have any trouble with them. In fact, I am even expecting spiritual themes from the very instant I started reading it. It’s a Christian novel by a Christian author, so what do I expect, right?

Karen Kingsbury writes simply and fluidly. The book is very easy to read. The characters are also realistic, except for the boy, Max. Sometimes, I find his dialogues too “mature” for an 8-year old, for me at least. But I love Buddy! I have long wanted to have a yellow Labrador retriever, and Buddy just seems to be the perfect dog for me. (Actually, I think I love every book that has a dog character in it!)

Although the book tells the story in various viewpoints — that of Connor, of Michele, of Max, of Ramey — I think I can relate more with Michele. I understand Michele’s anger and pain, not because I have experienced being a victim of unfaithfulness in the past. It is just that unforgiveness and hatred are my weak points — bad character traits I have always been asking God to change in me. I understand too well the reason why Michele struggled with her feelings of disappointment and betrayal. Who wouldn’t be? Imagine trusting a person too much and relying on his inherent goodness and faithfulness. Just when you thought everything in your life is running smoothly, one day you just learned you have been betrayed by the one person you trust and love the most. Worse, that betrayal has been kept from you for eight years! Such pain, right?

A friend of mine who went through a bad break-up because of a third party told me that unfaithfulness in a relationship is the worst kind of pain to experience. Once trust is broken, it takes more than a lifetime to restore it. Only through His grace will we ever learn to forgive. And this is what Michele learned to do. To forgive even if you are not ready for to do it, but because it is the Lord’s command and example – a tough lesson that we as readers can also learn from.

When I read the blurb in this book, I already expected to cry. And cry I did. Oceans Apart is more than just an emotional story, though. It is a story about learning to wait for God’s ways and to trust in His plans even if you are deeply hurt by the one you love the most.

Because of Oceans Apart, I have found a new author to love. Definitely, I will be reading more of Karen Kingsbury’s books.

3 stars.

4/50 2012 Goodreads Reading Goal.

2/2 Required Reading: January

 

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