Like many couples, Natalie and Benjamin have had their fair share of marital difficulties.
But when a tempered argument results in heated accusations, both are faced with the inevitability of a nasty divorce. To compound their issues, each of them finds that they are caught in a web of guilt, shame, and bitterness; both completely haunted by their own individual demons. As a final insult catapults each of them to the decision to end their marriage, they both fall asleep in agony, praying for a chance to “start over.” When they wake up, they find themselves where they were fifteen years earlier and learning that, for whatever reason, they broke off their engagement soon after the proposal. Considering that this was the opportunity they both asked for, Benjamin and Natalie individually face what could have been had they not married and the immediate results of their decision to pursue life without each other. However, they each carry every memory from the life they knew and they find that starting over is not as easy as they thought it would be.
Individually, and together, they come to understand that a covenant is more than just a decision entrusted to them by an almighty God that doesn’t exist in “time.” Natalie must learn what it means to really love and honor Benjamin. Benjamin must learn what it means to fight for Natalie and truly win her heart. Healing for both of them comes through forgiveness through the understanding that the Creator of marriage has complete and holy authority on it. Together they learn that God works through the bad even for His good and that He is always in charge…past, present, and future.
To the author: I found this story to be imaginative, featuring interesting characters, like Benjamin and Natalie. It is a good story about courage and the chance to do things over and if so, it invites the reader to ask: would I make the same choices? As far as the content, a character, William, states he is gay and God made him that way (page 268). We realize that this is the character’s opinion, but some of our conservative readers would not agree with his comment. William left the church for this reason. Perhaps a line added to that part stating that he realizes others might see it differently would be appropriate.
The story does have several scenes of violence so we are awarding the manuscript our Faith-Based Seal, meaning it has a strong faith message with some strong content. A few suicides are described and seem graphic in their violence, and a woman is physically beaten more than once. If we knew the suicides would only go to a point and not show the actual moment and if the abuse of the woman was just described as with a slap or something and then “talked about later” about how violently she was treated, we could award the book our Faith-Friendly Seal, which would not contain a caution. It is up to you regarding these decisions. We believe you are close to receiving the Faith-Friendly Seal for ages 12-plus and admire the great amount of work and dedication that went into this. If the violence is toned down, we would love to see a film of this if it is made into a movie. Its spiritual moments and theme about the importance of making a marriage work, not to mention the literate style of the writing, are all positive elements in this book.