Book Review: Tessa–From Fear to Faith
Well, here’s something new faithful readers. Today I am posting my first ever book review. I have no idea if I’ve done it correctly or if I’ve covered what readers would like to know. So, if you peruse this, would you please give me some feedback in the comments? Too much? Not enough? Something else I should have covered?
Do you enjoy testimonies of those who have been radically saved? Sometimes we decide (judge) that someone’s sins are too big to be forgiven, but Scripture reminds us that no sin is too big for God.
Tessa–From Fear to Faith by Melissa Wiltrout begins with a runaway girl, Tessa, being pursued for shoplifting. The fast-paced plot line continues rapidly from there, drawing the reader in as Tessa’s plight becomes filled with more and more unbelievable abuse.
While the opening scene grabs your attention, it may not leave you entirely sympathetic to the main character. However, after you meet Walter, Tessa father, in chapter two, you can’t help but start to feel sorry for the teenager. All of the sudden she has gone from juvenile delinquent to victim, and it’s clear to see she was probably better off on the street.
The majority of this novel deals with the conflict between Tessa, Walter, and Tessa’s mom. There is the meth business that Tessa is forced to work in. There is domestic violence and child abuse. There is theft, alcohol, and deceit in general. Life is painted in a very dark, dreary view.
While the reality of this lifestyle is very consistent, there were little things that I had a hard time accepting. For example, after missing school for six weeks straight, Tessa walks back in one day with nothing more than a note from her mother and returns straight to class without question or concern. Most, if not all, states have truancy laws. Tessa’s absence would have been reported to the Division of Family Services and/or the Truancy Officer long before this point. No high school student would simply walk in six weeks later with nothing more than a note.
The driving force behind the plot is the conversion of Tessa. The introduction of the Christian family to the story seemed out of place and forced. Tessa meeting the granddaughter at school, on the other hand, was perfectly realistic. While Tessa’s conversion takes time, it seems vague and incomplete. From the time of her acceptance to the end of the story, Tessa’s faith grows immensely. It is easy to see how God is working in her life.
While God works in mysterious ways, and many have been called to salvation radically, the second salvation in the novel is not as easy to accept. It seems to happen too quickly and without enough information being provided to the receiver. The change in the individual is undoubtedly authentic, though. Their actions, as a result of their decision, clearly demonstrate that they have given their life to the Lord. This radical change was not led up to in any way, however, and seems very unrealistic.
The entire novel was easy to read. At no time did I find myself having to go back and re-read to figure out what I had missed or what was going on. The information was presented in a clear, concise way that invited readers in. I didn’t want to put the book down until I was finished reading.
While the content is dark in nature, I do believe this is more of a young adult book than a mature adult book. I didn’t find the characters and conflict complex enough to truly engage the most sophisticated readers. I wanted to read on to validate my predictions, not because I just had to know who did it or what plot twist would happen next.
My typical way of rating 5 star books is by their ability to make me cry literal tears or laugh out loud. While many parts of this novel delve into abusive situations, I never felt emotionally connected to any of the characters enough to actually cry. I was reading more of an account than I was walking through their experience with them.
So, if you’re still reading my first official book review, consider me giving you a high five right now! I am giving Tessa–From Fear to Faith by Melissa Wiltrout 4 ½ out of 5 stars with a strong recommendation as a YA book.
**The publisher, Life Sentence Publishing, LLC, provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for this review. To comply with the Federal Trade Commission’s regulations, I have to tell you that. Please be aware that I was afraid of doing this review because as a Christian first and an English teacher second, I don’t lie about what I read. This review is my honest opinion. Had I disliked the book, you would see a rating that reflected that.**