Tuesday, March 23, 2010

‘Scared: A Novel on the Edge of the World’ by Tom Davis – Book Review

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Tom Davis is the author of ‘Red Letters: Living a Faith That Bleeds,’ ‘Field of the Fatherless’ and ‘Confessions of a Good Christian Guy: The Secrets Men Keep and the Grace That Saves Them.’  He is the president and CEO of Children’s HopeChest, a Christian-based child-advocacy organization helping orphans trapped in poverty in Eastern Europe and Africa.  Tom and his wife, Emily, live in Colorado with their seven children, including two adopted from Russia.

Here is the book trailer for ‘Scared: A Novel on the Edge of the World’:

The main character in this novel is Stuart Daniels, a celebrated and award-winning photojournalist.  He has grown weary from seeing horrors all over the world.  And he has grown cynical over the way he earns a living.  As stated on the back of the book:

He is now reeling from debt, a broken marriage, and crippling depression.  The source of Stuart’s grief is his most famous photo: a snapshot of brutality in the dangerous Congo.  A haunting image that indicts him as a passive witness to gross injustice. 

His next assignment – which could make or break his career – sends him back to Africa to cover the AIDS crisis in Swaziland.  There, he meets an amazing young orphan named Adanna, who is fighting for survival in a ravaged and diseased community.  She has been transformed after a dream featuring an ‘illuminated man.’ 

It is an eye opener when we Americans are exposed to the poverty and corruption in these countries.  Those of us who live in the suburbs don’t generally see that sort of thing.  Tom shows us through the life of Adanna and her little brother and sister that children in those countries don’t worry about owning the latest gadget or seeing the newest movie – they are concerned about when they will eat their next meal – or even their next morsel.  I was saddened by the corruption exhibited by a so-called ‘relief agency’ and the brutality endured by innocent children and encouraged by the sheer joy of worship, all of which were portrayed in this novel.    

Tom’s characters are multi-dimensional, believable and engaging.  I was rooting for all of the good ones!  And he paints an elaborate and detailed landscape; I could easily picture each scene.  Even though I have never physically visited Africa, Tom certainly transported me there in this novel.  He is incredibly gifted in his wordsmithing and in conveying his heart of compassion for the least of these.

I was excited to see that Stuart’s experiences in Swaziland turned his heart back to God:

There is still much mystery, much that I don’t understand.  But one thing I do know: God is life and the giver of life. (p. 283)

Although this book is a work of fiction, many of the characters are based on actual people.  Stuart Daniels, for instance, is inspired by the life of Kevin Carter, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer who was so haunted by the images he saw in Sudan that he took his own life.  Adanna’s character is based on a real little girl that Tom encountered in an orphanage in Swaziland.  Despite her horrific life circumstances, she was full of joy.  The pastor of the church which Adanna attended, Pastor Walter, is the real name of a church planter who cares for hundreds of orphans in his community.      

Without giving away the end of the book, let’s just say that Stuart’s encounter with Adanna and the other believers in her circle have reopened his eyes to the truth of the gospel.  He returns to his New York City home a changed man.  And Adanna’s story also ends with good news.

Scared: A Novel on the Edge of the World’ is the first book in a series of three. His next novel is entitled ‘Priceless: A Novel on the Edge of the World.’  This novel will follow Stuart Daniels to Russia, where he will expose one of the most villainous and evil industries on the face of the earth, the child-sex slave trade; it will release in June 2010.  I look forward to reading the next chapter in the saga of Stuart Daniels; I will be reviewing and posting, so stay tuned!

You can order this book here.

This book was generously provided to me by Tom Davis.


Judylynn said...

I have this one on my e-reader: now you've got me wanting to read it right away! I probably will when we go on a short vacation in a few weeks!

Brandi said...

Thanks for reading "Scared"! Just wait till you read "Priceless" It's SO good!

I work at HopeChest and what actually got me started was reading Tom's other book "Red Letters"!

Let me know if I can help you in any way get connected!


Andrea Schultz said...

Hi Brandi -
Thanks for the comment (just saw it - sorry about that!). I am on the list to get a copy of 'Priceless' - greatly looking forward to it!
It must be so rewarding to work for Children's HopeChest!
I haven't read 'Red Letters' as yet, but it is on my Wish List!
Blessings to you and your coworkers!

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