Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ransomed by Els Van Hierden

Author Els Van Hierden and her husband adopted their fifth child from Russia in 2006. Combining her passion for writing and a heart for suffering children, Hierden has penned a revealing novel based on her experiences in Russia. But don’t expect Hierden to merely entertain the reader. Even her writing reflects her teaching ability as a beautiful story of redemption, forgiveness and an unmistakable heavenly love unfolds, and the reader realizes that God indeed turns everything for our good.

David just wants to know that he is in God’s will. After an accident permanently alters his idyllic life, David leaves the states and heads to Russia to start a ministry for homeless teens. As the mission thrives and teens flock to David, he remains bitter over his past and although he doesn’t realize it yet, incredibly lonely. When his life intersects with Karina’s, he experiences another life altering shake up, but will this one end in tragedy? David’s faith in God changes his life as well as Karina’s, and along the way, it will take that unshakable belief to weather spiritual storms brewing within the mission, and yet another heartbreaking loss in the states.

Karina just wants to be left alone. She has created isolation as the director of Kungur Baby House, an orphanage, and finds her unsocial, workaholic lifestyle fitting for one on the emotional run. With a past marked by the imposing selfishness of others, she is left with scars that prevent her from desiring anything and anyone-especially American men. When David offers to bring food supplies to Kungar Baby House as he does other local orphanages, Karina discourages it. In fact, everything good that David offers her is discouraged. After all, nothing good has ever happened to her.

Vanessa just wants a baby. An irreversible surgery has prevented her from having anymore than the one daughter she has, but the maternal longing just isn’t satisfied. With her husband-Jared-by her side, they embark on the long and painful journey to Russia to adopt a child. How will Vanessa know which child is meant to be with them? The process becomes grueling-emotionally and politically-but God has a plan, and a way to prove to Vanessa that he is with her throughout the process.

Each storyline reflects a different internal struggle resolved through the aggressive desire to do right. But that doesn’t make this a sticky sweet, birds-chirping-in-the-treetops type of novel. It accurately reflects the pain one suffers that could interfere with their spiritual relationship with God. It also demonstrates how no one is beyond the grace of God, and how he can take such diverse life experiences and blend them together to create a healing environment.

The characters are so well developed you begin the story with familiarity and it builds from there. You are absorbed in the lifestyle of Russia-from food, weather and customs-so completely that when David makes a trip back to the states, you experience the shift. Reading Ransomed is an event that engages all of the senses and blends in many emotions by the end of the book. It is hard to believe that this is a first novel by Hierden, and certainly a loss to Christian readers if her last. Skilled, knowledgeable, entertaining…yes, yes, and yes. But it is her passion and complete trust in God that drives Ransomed and sets Hierden apart as an author.

Truth is stranger than fiction, but in the case of Ransomed, truth drives fiction. It is a believable tale of spiritual fate that can be applied to any circumstance.

Paperback: 239 pages
Publisher: Winepress Publishing (December 28, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1579219616
ISBN-13: 978-1579219611
Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.7 inches

A copy of Ransomed was provided by Winepress Publishing for review purposes.