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Review: A Gradual Redemption

Books

Kelly was young, in her late teens.

Her dad was absent. So she was vulnerable to the attention of a slightly older married guy.

Her mother warned her that the guy was no good.

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She wound up pregnant.

The guy's wife also wound up pregnant, with their second child. He chose his wife and family over Kelly, though he had promised otherwise.

Left out in the cold, she wound up in Indianapolis. Now, 25 years later, Kelly Williams has written a haunting memoir, A Gradual Redemption (Air in Motion Publishers, 2011).

The book is hard to put down.

At one level it's a pro-life story. With the help of a crisis pregnancy center, she resists the pressure to get an abortion. That saves her from a guilty conscience.

At another level the book indicts absentee fathers. Academic studies have documented the problem: Fatherlessness is linked to failing grades, truancy, unemployment, and crime.

Williams tells why, but not in academic terms. Instead she tells how her father broke her heart, through the alcohol abuse that took his life.

"What has taken years for me to grasp is the insight into the gaping hole my father's death created in my own heart," Williams writes. "The place where I once knew beauty and adoration was left void and vacant, creating a vast expanse of emptiness that I have struggled to contain."

Sometimes she was vaguely aware of what was missing, as she saw friends with their dads. But little did she know how vulnerable she was to a substitute man who did not love her as a father should and instead was looking out for his own selfish whims.

"What began as innocent and fun grew into an emotional fix for a security-starved junkie," Williams realized later. "His attention, his mere presence began to draw me like a magnetic force."

Her book likely will get a larger female readership. But it could serve as a warning for young fathers, for seldom do we fully understand how important we are to our daughters. Her story opens a window to the hearts of daughters, a plea for the disciplined love of a father for one of his most important duties-caring for his daughters.

This story has a victim-the author, a single mother, a victim of her dad's neglect in favor of the bottle, then a predatory man who used her for his selfish pleasure.

Yet Williams does not dwell in a victim mentality. Through a conversion to Christ, she assumes responsibility for her life. With some good counseling she learns not to blame herself where others are responsible. She learns to think differently, with the help of the man who becomes her husband. As the title suggests, it's a gradual redemption for Kelly Williams.

Father's Day is a few weeks off. Early shoppers should grab this one for young dads.

Russ Pulliam
Russ Pulliam

Russ is a columnist for The Indianapolis Star, the director of the Pulliam Fellowship, and a member of God's World Publications' board of directors.

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