Fatherless represents a new beginning for popular Christian author and radio host James Dobson. With the aid of best-selling novelist Kurt Bruner, Dobson’s first novel portrays a dystopian future in which elderly Americans outnumber the young. In 2042, disregard for human life has so progressed that society expects the elderly and disabled to “transition”—i.e., commit doctor-assisted suicide. When a mother dies trying to prevent her son’s transition, the fallout pits Julia Davidson, a liberal journalist looking for a new start, against Kevin Tolbert, a Christian congressman fighting to preserve America’s future. Fatherless lacks polish, and its presentation of married sex is not for immature readers. The book’s depiction of family breakdown and its effects on American culture feels chillingly prophetic.
In this novel Erik Schroder has a lot to be sorry for— kidnapping his daughter and stealing a friend’s car, for starters. But as the “Erik Kennedy” persona he’s hidden behind since his childhood unravels, Schroder gropes for his real identity, trying to wrench some new reality from a lifetime of lies. Schroder, which includes occasional foul language and brief descriptions of sex, shows one man’s inability to be the father and husband his family needs. Framed as an apology written to a still-loved ex-wife, the novel is sometimes hilarious and at other times heartbreakingly poignant. It will resonate with Christian readers wishing to savor their new lives and identity in Christ.
In December of 2012, Christian author and professor Robert Siegel died of cancer. But not before leaving behind this compilation of his poetry spanning five decades. Published in journals like The Atlantic and Image, Siegel’s work flowed out of a religious awakening during his years at Wheaton College. His work here is both erudite and conversational, addressing topics as varied as deer ticks, ancient English literature, and the rescue of his daughter’s hamster. Perhaps most notably, the new life within his cancerous “tree of bones” grows from a whisper, mostly hinted at, to later poems that are a “shout from the stomach” to “give gladness and joy back to the Lord.”
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” So opens John MacArthur’s presentation of the life of Jesus created through artful and theologically sound arrangement of Scripture verses. MacArthur, pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, Calif., and author of numerous books including The MacArthur Study Bible, draws on nearly four decades of ministry to create a harmony of biblical accounts about Christ. The presentation looks first to Old Testament references to Jesus and His work as Creator, and from that point works its way through the entire Bible with line-by-line references and copious footnotes. While this portrait of Christ in His own words is at times disjointed, it is compelling enough to rival a novel.
In 1969, David and Nancy Watters move to a remote village in the mountains of Nepal to learn the Kham language. After David forays into the mountains to scout out a home village, he returns to Kathmandu where Nancy and their two sons (3 and less than a year) wait. She wants to know everything he’d seen and experienced. He writes: “I tried my best to describe it. But how could I adequately portray the majesty of the mountains, the beauty of the people, the strangeness of the villages?”
Watters does just that in At the Foot of the Snows (Engage Faith, 2011). Completed by his sons after his death in 2009, the book combines genres: vivid travel writing, revealing spiritual memoir, and perceptive cultural and political analysis. At the book’s center is the extraordinary story of courageous believers who responded to the gospel in their own language—and joyfully endured persecution to follow Christ. —Susan Olasky