Friday, April 12, 2019

Bridge to Haven

Bridge to Haven, Francine Rivers

In 1936 a woman gives birth under a bridge near the river in Haven. Leaving the little one behind she flees into the early morning light. Pastor Ezekiel Freeman is out in the early dawn, as usual, praying as he walks around the town. He feels led to the river area where he discovers the newborn girl. He and his wife, with their son Joshua, foster little baby Abra for the next five years.

When his wife gets sick and dies, little Abra is given to another nearby family who really want her but Abra never gets over the sense of betrayal and lack of trust. Uncertain she is really wanted, she falls for the charm and looks of a older man, who tempts her away to Hollywood to a life of debauchery. In time she ends up with another man who tries to make her into a new woman, Lena Scott, his new creation and to be the next movie star of the 1950s stage.

At the same time, Joshua serves in the Korean army and returns to be a carpenter, always hoping and praying, with the rest of the Haven community, that Abra will be found and return found. But Abra has sunk so deep into her sins and regrets that she is convinced no one can love or forgive her.

Rivers makes it clear in her end notes that her inspiration was Ezekiel 16, and she has used some of the same imagery there, a newborn baby abandoned, who runs away from the love she has been shown to sinful living and idolatry. It was reading the end notes that helped me to appreciate a little more what she had done with the story, and lessened my sense of unease that it was female Abra who turned away from God and the love of her family, and male Joshua who was the faithful, patient, godly one trying to care for her. It felt very similar to Redeeming Love.

Rivers does not shy away from real issues, struggles with sin and the real consequences of life choices. So the story has depth and the characters were mostly believable (although possibly all a little extremely good or extremely bad). I have expressed some of my issues with Christian fiction before and this one is also a little predictable, or at least you know how the story will end, although that’s usually true for any romantic fiction. I think this is one of her better ones, the story certainly had my attention for a full day.

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