A top news story this week, about a multimillion dollar settlement to victims of abuse by clergy, made me wish more teens could read Simple Twists of Faith, a Young Adult book that came out this year.
Simple Twists of Faith, by Judy Dearborn Nill, tells the story of Emma, a lonely girl who accepts the offer of counseling from her pastor, Jeffrey Grantham, when her beloved grandmother dies. Emma meets with the young, good-looking, married pastor in his office, where she responds to his concern, confides the problems of her dysfunctional family, and basks in his understanding. She welcomes his hugs—after all, he’s the kind of person who hugs everyone.
In time, she starts daydreaming about Jeffrey in a romantic way. His long gazes, tender words, and occasional touches on the cheek or knee during their weekly sessions must mean that he feels the same way about her, she reasons. Swept off her feet, Emma justifies their secret relationship because of the heated phone conversations that she overhears between Jeffrey and his wife.
One day Jeffrey kisses Emma. From then on, she’s sure they’ll be married, but every time she tries to talk to him about it—bring it out in the open so they can make plans together—he’s evasive. The church secretary, Emma’s close friend, and others, however, see what’s going on and try to warn her about Jeffrey. Emma refuses to listen.
In this book, Judy Dearborn Nill addresses the nuances of appropriate and inappropriate behavior between adults and minors. While there’s nothing R-rated in the story to worry parents, the author clearly reveals how easy it is for unscrupulous people, particularly those in positions of authority, to take advantage of youth in their care. Judy’s insights provide not only believable characters caught up in a true-to-life drama that raises questions about God, but also a very satisfying conclusion to an engrossing story.
On top of that, the work offers wide appeal: two close friends in their eighties told me the same thing, “I couldn’t put the book down!”
My sentiments exactly.
Simple Twists of Faith is available in paperback and e-book on Amazon, and at: