I recently had the opportunity to read Rain Dance by Joy DeKok, a re-release of her 2006 novel , this time from Sheaf House. I have to say, I like the revised edition’s cover much better:
First off all, if you don’t like books that you need a box of Kleenex near by to read, you might want to stop reading now, because I sobbed like a baby. Of course, I’m in much the same shoes as Jonica, who the author admits in an afterward is based upon her own struggles with infertility and shockingly rude people who make me feel either grateful for my church or paranoid I’m being gossiped about too and just haven’t overheard it, depending on my mood at the moment.
She adds a novel’s worth of conflict to the drama with Stacie, the daughter of a Senator in the mold of Hilary Clinton who discovers the hard way who the real closed minded people are when she falls for the lie that abortion is a quick and easy way to get rid of a little “problem” and make sure her career goals stay on track. The author shows her struggle with post abortion syndome and fears over her increased risk of breast cancer (it also runs in her family) in a way that allows readers to understand the issue from a human perspective.
I like the way she portayed post abortion syndrome especially. It reminds us abortion effectively induces a miscarriage and we all know the devestating effects a miscarriage has on a woman, how she misses the child, she may even fret over whether she unwittingly did something to hurt the baby. Why are we so surprised, shocked, even scandalized that intentionally inflicting a misscarriage on yourself can wreak similar emotional devastation? We forget the woman’s reproductive system isn’t on the same page as her career goals, is actively working against conscious mind, and did want that child. This is a tragic realization that comes to late for many, and they need loving souls like Jonica, and the author, to bring that pain to the surface, to grieve, and ultimately find healing in Christ.
I am a little puzzeled at her preaching for the need to make post-abortive women feel welcome in the prolife movement (if I understood what she was getting at) as in Boise, ID, we have several pro-life activists who had abortions, they’re the most passionate and ardent ones, in fact, and I’ve never seen any of them shown anything but grace and mercy. The Church itself might be another thing. I haven’t heard too many admit that sin at the altar, so to speak, and the Church does need to come into way better balance on hot button issues, as we’ve lost many a Christian struggling with homosexuality to the enemy because they were too ashamed to ask for help.
Stylistically, the author chose to tell the story in dual first person, from both Stacie and Jonica’s view, and knowing her attachment to Jonica, and that Stacie needed to be a view point character, that close intmacy with both of them was warranted. However, she had a hard time dealing with the urge to show scenes from both point of view, and this resulted in several scenes being showed twice, with telling over the portions that we’d already seen, or simply summarizing the other person’s view, and we lose some of the immediacy we gained there and some of these passages get a tad dull, but she still manages to connect with her reader’s on a human level.
I tend to agree with previous reviewers, Stacie’s side in particular makes this book a good ministry tool to reach out to women going through that agony. Infertile women will get that good “I’m not alone, and I didn’t do anything to deserve this!” feeling after she raises the question in the first place.
The poor thing recieves a “prophecy” that if she repents of some unstated sin, she’ll be blessed with children, and that last part is theologically accurate, children are a blessing from the Lord. Unfortunately, scripture hints, in specific circumstances that only God may be able to forsee, infertility is also a blessing, though I would prefer to exchange it for the latter blessing myself.
Interestingly, I didn’t react with the anger Joy, er, Jonica felt, but rather with, “Tell me what I’ve done, Lord, so I can repent of it!” (This reader identified perhaps too much.) It’s a whole lot easier to lift a curse caused by sin than it is to live with infertility God’s allowed for specific, usually ministry-related reasons which He may or may not decide to share with us. That’s why good people fall into the same mentality as Job’s friends in the first place.
Truthfully, I’d be a lot more concerned about the soul of someone who voiced their own personal opinion and decided to give it more authority by saying, “thus says the Lord” when the Lord has not thus said. In old testament times, the penalty for prophesying falsely even once was death. Even with grace, I like to naively think no one would dare risk the Lord’s wrath in that manner, but I’ve lived long enough to know better. Thankfully, God does forgive us, all of us, when we are truly sorry and turn from our sin. Even if it’s abortion. Even if she did have a hard time with showing both sides without resorting to telling or repeating scenes twice, Joy DeKok does a wonderful job of conveying that timeless and timely message without being overly preachy. She likewise develops the friendship between Stacie and Jonica in a believeable way that does a good job of showing how Jonica’s love and compassion for Stacie’s loss, without agreeing with Stacie’s decision, draws her to the Lord without making the reader feel overly lectured on how to be a good witness.
Readers particularly sensitive to books with a message might disagree with me on the preachiness level, given my perchant for message-oriented fiction, but if you like books that make you sob like a baby (I did, anyway) you’ll love this.
Though I was disappointed in the content on adoption. I understand not everyone is called to adopt (I personally hope to myself whether the Lord intervenes or not), but adoption is often the win-win-win answer in a crisis pregnancy, so she’d have had more opportunity to show that if she’d disconnected from Jonica enough to give the woman permission to adopt–though someone else’s child, Stacie’s actually married and just made a poorly informed decision without the protection of her husband, who I believe would have calmed her fears and reassured her that they could carry this baby if she’d consulted him, which I liked. The father often gets ignored, when they can suffer terribly, too.
Thank you for the touching review of Rain Dance, Andrea! It is now on my to-read list.
You’re welcome, Frank! It was a touching book.
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