by Iola Goulton
Exceptional Tale of Contemporary Issues
Tara Faulkner is marring Seth Grissom: her brother’s best friend, the son of their pastor, and the guy she’s loved for ten years. But they have a strange argument three weeks before the wedding, and when she returns to discuss it with Seth, she finds him doing something awful. He promises he’ll change and never do it again, and she wants to believe him. After all, the alternative is cancelling the wedding. But when she finds he lied, she does just that—but he makes her promise not to tell anyone why, which leaves her dealing with all the fallout, not least two families blaming her for the cancellation.
One Last Thing is written entirely in first person point of view from Tara’s viewpoint. This normally only works for complex characters, and Tara wasn’t complex, at least not in the beginning. She was the perfect pampered Southern princess, and while she hasn’t lived an entirely sheltered life, her family is financially stable and she’s always been given the best of everything. She attends church with her family, but there was little indication she had any personal faith: something that’s normally a must in Christian romance.
At first I was a little frustrated that Seth, a Christian man who worked for a mission organisation, was planning to marry a woman who had little or no personal faith of her own. But as the novel progressed, Tara began to search for God … and it explained why Seth was prepared to be “unequally yoked”. The explanation was misogynistic, hypocritical (or possibly both), but it worked, and it worked without making me feel as though my emotions were being manipulated. That’s strong writing.
The more Tara digs into Seth’s issues, the more she finds out, and the more secrets she has to keep from her friends, her family, and from Seth’s family. The only person who has any sympathy for her is Seth’s younger sister—who’s seen as a troublemaker. She is helped in her troubled journey by a disparate group of ladies she meets while working in a local coffee shop—her first-ever job.
Tara slowly discovers Seth’s issues, and strangely, this allows us to move from repugnance to sympathy for his problems while still acknowledging Tara did the right thing. Seth acknowledges that he has to take responsibility for his own actions, especially when they have hurt others, and I see this as a positive thing.
Publisher Thomas Nelson has caught some criticism recently for publishing books with inappropriate content for a Christian novel. I suspect they’ll catch a little more over One Last Thing, from people who would like to believe this kind of thing never happens to “proper” Christians. I wish it didn’t, but it does, and One Last Thing does an excellent job in sensitively fictionalising a growing problem in society. It’s not easy reading, and it’s not nice. But it is real. Unfortunately.
Thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Rebecca St James and Nancy Rue at their websites.
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I love reading, and read and review around 150 Christian books each year on my blog. I'm a Top 25 Reviewer at Christian Book, in the Top 1% of reviewers at Goodreads, and have an Amazon Reviewer Rank that floats around 2500