Thicker than Blood

Written by C.J. Darlington

Reviewed by Nike Chillemi

Do we lovers of Christian fiction ever think of the book in our hands, the object itself, as having value—a first edition perhaps? In C.J. Darlington’s Thicker Than Blood, Christy Williams works in just such a place, Dawson’s Book Barn, where costly works have recently gone missing—stolen. There have been deceptions. Even her hands have not been clean.

The story opens when Christy gets a DUI on her 33rd birthday. She certainly can’t call May, the younger sister she abandoned two decades earlier at the funeral of their alcoholic parents, who died together in a car crash. She has nobody but, Vince, the ex-boyfriend who has hit her and who holds a dishonorable secret over her head.

May, on the other hand, is quite the equestrian and co-owns a financially strapped spread with Ruth, a highly experienced rancher. The author paints a touchingly warm and cozy relationship between May and her great aunt Edna, as well as with the older Ruth. These relationships steeped in each woman’s reliance on the Lord.

The back-slidden Christy often comes across less than lovable, still I liked the line from her point of view, at Aunt Edna’s funeral, “Some hymn belched from the organ, and she pretended to sing along, repeating what words she could decipher in a quiet alto.” I was tickled by Christy’s thought after misinterpreting May’s expression of joy that their aunt would be walking on streets of gold. “Not only had she left her sister when she needed her most, but by leaving, she driven May off the deep end.”

The themes of alcoholism, domestic violence, promiscuity, and dishonesty in the workplace are handled with grace and class. After Christy’s apartment is deliberately set on fire, the author realistically portrays how a woman with no support system can have her life so easily spin out of control and into virtual homelessness. How the thought of going back to an abusive man can start to look attractive again in this wretched situation.

Ultimately the book is about two sisters from a dysfunctional childhood home who where never close, walking through their own personal and spiritual journeys yet wondering about each other—n ever able to let go of thoughts of each other. The author takes this fragile thread that holds the sisters to each other and spins a story that gets brutal and hair raising at times, until the two are able to find their way back to each other. And then, yet another secret is revealed—one that is intensely painful and shameful to one of the sisters, one that will take God’s healing grace.

This is a story of hope and redemption, the triumph of the human spirit over evil, and the joy found by believers in the love of God. Without a doubt it’s well written, but it also expanded my world. Not all books can say that. There was never an overload of information, yet I realized I was learning quite a bit about book antiquities—something I knew nothing about, but found very interesting.

About Nike Chillemi

Nike Chillemi has been called a crime fictionista due to her passion for crime fiction. She is a member of ACFW and the Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers on Ning. She was an Inspy Awards 2010 and a Carol Awards 2011 judge, She is the founding board member of the Grace Awards, a reader's choice awards for excellence in Christian fiction.

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