FAITH ALONE. By Ruth E. Meyer. TruthNotes Press, 2019. 343 pages. $12.99.
Warning!!! This review contains spoilers after the first five paragraphs.
Faith Alone continues a story that was first developed in Grace Alone. David Neunaber and Grace Williams are coming home from their honeymoon, but the transition to a regular domestic life is difficult. Grace’s four children are getting used to their new dad, and David is discovering the steep learning curve of parenthood.
The book’s primary character, however, is Faith; the oldest daughter of Grace. She is sixteen years old and madly smitten with Spencer Young, the well-to-do, good-looking athlete at her high school. This budding relationship presents a host of predictable issues that need to be addressed by David, Grace, and others
Faith Alone’s plotline does not have the aggressive twists and turns of Grace Alone. It’s more tempered, and frankly, it’s better. The story is more true-to-life. The reader gets the distinct impression that Meyer has something she wants to say rather than searching for something to say. For this reason Meyer has written a fine work of Christian-fiction that’s better than her admirable first novel. The book addresses multiple adult themes which Meyer addresses beautifully by striking a good balance between raw truth and careful modesty.
If you liked Grace Alone, you’ll love Faith Alone. If you haven’t read Grace Alone, then Faith Alone will present moments of difficulty for the reader, but with a little effort on the part of the reader, Faith Alone can stand as its own volume.
I have a few things that particularly impressed me about this book, but I cannot discuss them without giving away key details of the plot. If you haven’t read the book yet, I truly believe that the spoilers that follow will not discourage you from reading the book. Rather, I think the spoilers that follow will compel you to take up the book sooner rather than later. With that said, this is the last warning. From here on out, SPOILERS ABOUND!
If you were to guess where this book was going after reading only the first chapter you would be correct. Predictably, the teenage Faith Williams makes poor decisions as it pertains to her relationship with Spencer Young which leaves her pregnant. The predictability of Faith’s pregnancy is not a problem because of how Meyer handles it. The manner in which Meyer told the story was refreshingly unpredictable.
I anticipated the pregnancy. But the pregnancy story I anticipated was nowhere to be found. There were no chapters that detailed Faith’s fall into temptation with Spencer. There weren’t any chapters devoted to how Faith was going to buy and use a pregnancy test without someone finding out about it. This book lacks the long, drawn-out attempts of Faith to keep her pregnancy a secret from her family. This book doesn’t devolve into shouting matches between Faith and her mom or step-dad. And that’s part of what makes this book such a gem
When Faith finally discloses her pregnancy to an acquaintance from her youth group (Aaron Sullivan) and swears him to secrecy, it takes him literally two pages before he spills the beans to her step-dad . . . on purpose! How refreshing to have a character with character. One who does the right thing because it’s the right thing to do! Aaron Sullivan rightly worries about Faith’s temptation to “fix” the pregnancy with an abortion, and so he tells Faith’s step-dad.
Similarly then, from the time that David Neunaber learns of Faith’s pregnancy until the time he addresses it with her is very short. This tells me that Ruth Meyer isn’t an author looking for a story to tell, but an author with a story to tell.
Faith Alone addresses the issue of unwed teen-pregnancy in a way that is commendable and faithful to Jesus Christ and the witness of His Word. Poor decisions are not met with stereotypical “how dare you?” judgment (except for one brief exception). They’re met with grace, wisdom, and character. And that’s the story that needs to be told.
I was worried Meyer was going to tell the story of the unsympathetic step-dad. The unforgiving church family. The unwelcoming youth group. Those are easy stories to tell precisely because they are flush with drama and intrigue. However, I don’t think the world needs more of those stories. They need more stories like Faith Alone. A story where people are doing the right thing at the right time for the right reason, even though it’s difficult. That story—it turns out—is just as compelling as the others, and I’m not only thankful that Ruth Meyer has told it, but I’m encouraging you to read it.
Rev. Timothy A. Koch, Pastor of Emanuel Lutheran Church, South Dakota.