Bridge to Haven is not a repacked Redeeming Love. First, because there will only ever be one book like that, and second because Abra's story is her own.
Redeeming Love took us to the California gold rush days and introduced us to a woman who had been forced into prostitution as a child.
Bridge to Haven takes us to a small California town in the 1950's, and we meet a girl who is much loved but doesn't know it yet. Human imperfections all around her and a lack of answers about her own past send her seeking a future far away from everyone who really knows her.
There is a battle here for Abra's life, love, and loyalty.
She's a girl who thinks nobody wants her.
Her biological mother left her to die. Her first father, Pastor Ezekiel, gave her up to another family because he thought they would be able to offer her more. That couple already had a daughter, and the girls at 16 have grown to be rivals, not comrades.
The only person she truly trusts is Pastor Ezekiel's son. And even Joshua, barely in his twenties and just back from the Korean war, can't seem to convince her that he cares anymore. The brotherly teasing and hiking trips and cheeseburgers that used to connect them when she was a child no longer work. She craves love, and she's not recognizing it right in front of her, wrapped as it is in plain packaging.
Abra is a girl who is uncertain about her own value. And all it takes to steal her heart is a little attention, somebody who desires her company and who makes that desire known. She's too young to tell when a romance is tainted. And so Abra disappears from her home town.
This is the story of her leaving and her return. Slowly, painfully, step by step, she loses everything including her own sense of identity. Hollywood made her promises that it could never keep, and there is nothing left that she recognizes as the real Abra.
And she doesn't dare imagine that anybody is out there, longing for her to come home.
Yet that is exactly the case. The God who formed her, the man who found her naked and newborn, the boy who grew up with her and wants her to come back. They are all calling/whispering/waiting/seeking and urging her to come Home. Grace itself is beckoning to her broken heart, but does she dare to trust it?
Again, this is not Redeeming Love. Don't ever go into one book expecting it to be the same as the author's others. This is a fine story all by its self. The first moments to the final scene, even the dark times in the middle.... it all comes together eventually.
Great storytelling reminds us why we need to be comfortable in our own stories, because our Author too knows just when to introduce a character, never wastes a scene, and knows how to carry us through a terrible chapter.
(Item of note: I really appreciated Joshua's character. I liked the fact that he had been a brother/friend to her for years. It makes their deep bond and growing romance real. It was their foundation, built out of childhood purity and tested by fire. I admire his continual belief in Abra as a human being, and the way he constantly reminded her that she did not need to save herself. That work had already been done.
Another element I really like is the quotes above each chapter. Some were from Scripture, some from poetry, others from great men and women of the past.)
Thank you Tyndale Summer Reading Program for my review copy of this book.
Francine Rivers began her literary career at the University of Nevada, Reno, where she graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in English and journalism. Although raised in a religious home, Francine did not truly encounter Christ until later in life, when she was already a wife, a mother of three, and an established romance novelist.
Shortly after becoming a born-again Christian in 1986, Francine wrote Redeeming Love as her statement of faith. First published by Bantam Books and then rereleased by Multnomah Publishers in the mid-1990s, this retelling of the biblical story of Gomer and Hosea, set during the time of the California Gold Rush, is now considered a classic work of Christian fiction.