genre: inspirational (Christian) contemporary women's fiction.
All Angela Williams wants is a family-a normal family unlike what she had as a child. But after three miscarriages, she isn't sure if she'll ever carry a child to term and Angela decides to gain her family through other means. But, when she attempts to convince her husband they should adopt, he counters by suggesting that they need therapy to deal with the trauma of the miscarriages.
Fourteen-year-old Diana Russam thinks she has the perfect life until her older boyfriend talks her into sex and she immediately regrets it. She starts having dark thoughts about what her family with think of her, so she plans to keep it a secret. When her brother reveals that he knows the truth, Diana lets him believe that was raped.
Unexpectedly, Angela's mother calls to say that she's dying and she wants to see Angela to rebuild their broken relationship. After some deliberation, Angela and her husband decide to go to dinner with her mother. As the evening progresses, Angela must scramble to keep the secret in her past hidden from her husband. In order to distract him, Angela agrees to counseling with the pastor of their church.
When Diana discovers she's pregnant, her father is outraged and tries to force her into an abortion. Diana refuses and, with her brother's help, she arranges to have the pastor of a local church help her with a private adoption. He agrees to set up a meeting with a couple who may want to adopt the child, but he tells Diana that she has to tell her father about it. The pastor also tells Diana that he knows she wasn't raped and he gives her a Bible with a list of Scriptures to read.
Angela's counseling sessions are more intense than she expected, and she reveals more of her past than she wants to, but she manages to deflect the pastor and her husband from uncovering her secret. When the pastor mentions a young lady is looking for parents to adopt her unborn child, her husband, Paul, is so pleased with her progress that he agrees to the meeting.
Diana needs to tell her father about the adoption meeting, but she doesn't know what to say. She procrastinates by reading the Bible the pastor gave her and is struck by a verse saying "there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus". She prays and becomes a Christian. When she tells her father about the meeting, he decides to come and meet the prospective adoptive parents.
At the meeting, they are shocked to discover that Angela and Diana's father, Mark, are co-workers. He questions Angela's fitness as a parent and the meeting ends in confusion when Diana reveals she wasn't raped.
Mark knows Angela through his work, and must know something about her that isn't said here. Leaving out details can lead to some odd conclusions like: she's unfit to be a parent because she works with him?
Angela convinces Paul that they should adopt Diana's child. As they work through the legal process, Angela continues to attempt rebuilding a healthy relationship with her mother. Meanwhile, Diana is overwhelmed by school rumors concerning her pregnancy and the lack of support from her father, and she begins cutting to find emotional release. When her brother's best friend dies in a car crash and he withdraws from her as well, Diana cuts too deep and loses a lot of blood. She is rushed to the hospital, and she is in danger of losing the baby.
Angela is devastated when she hears about Diana's hospitalization. Mark tells her that Diana has to have an abortion for medical reasons. Because Paul is out of town, Angela seeks comfort from her mother, who tells her that maybe God is seeking justice for the sins Angela committed as a teenager.
As Diana's condition stabilizes, Mark tells her that Angela is no longer willing to adopt the baby. He tells her that he is concerned about her physical and mental health, and that he has started proceedings to declare her incompetent to make her own medical decisions. Mark says he is certain that he'll gain control over her medical affairs, but he doesn't want to drag her through court. He promises Diana that if she consents to an abortion, he will stop the legal process.
Convinced that everything happening is her fault, Angela confesses her part in her father's death twenty years ago. Paul is angry that she kept that a secret from him and tells her that he is glad they're not adopting Diana's child and that he doesn't think they should start a family now. Angela goes back to her mother and blames her for destroying any chance she had at getting a family. They have a major blow-out and Angela reveals that she was protecting her younger sister from their father's lecherous attack. Her mother is forced to re-evaluate her idea of what happened and apologizes to Angela.
Diana's ex-boyfriend and his father, a lawyer, come to visit Diana in the hospital. She explains her father's proposition and discovers that her father has no case and is manipulating her.
Angela surrenders her desire to have a family to God, and then she receives a tearful phone call from Diana. She wants to know if Angela still wants to adopt the baby or if her father was telling the truth. Angela admits that she wants the child very much, but she doesn't think they'll be able to adopt. Paul overhears the conversation and tells Diana that they will adopt her child. He tells Angela that her mother explained what happened. Angela asks for his forgiveness and agrees to stay in therapy to deal with the issues of her childhood.
When her father arrives at the hospital the next morning, Diana tells him she knows about his scheme and she refuses to have the abortion. She contacts the pastor and asks for his help to find another family to stay with until she has the baby.
This is a pretty straightforward rendition of events. We don’t get much sense of why Mark is so manipulative. What's he concerned about that he's lying all over the place?
What I notice here is that most of the the men are bad guys. Did you pick up on that? The closest we come to ”good guys” are Angela’s ex boyfriend and his father the lawyer who clue her in to her father’s shenanigans. Maybe the synopsis format forced you to remove nuance, or inner conflict?
One of the things I don’t like about “christian fiction” is everyone ends up making “the right choices”. One of the most powerful things about a loving god who freely bestows grace is that it’s there for people who make WRONG choices. I think this would be a much more powerful story if Diana actively considers abortion. If you know you can be forgiven, why NOT do the easy thing? Seeing her struggle with a full range of choices would be much more interesting to me, but I’m also not your target reader.
And I want to kick Angela’s mother in her smug little mouth. I just might, too and pray for forgiveness later.