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Reviewed by Alex Ndirangu for Readers' Favorite
Why do most of us feel we are nothing without God? The answer will eventually depend on whose worldview has been proven true. Still, I would argue that it is because people were made in God's image and were intended to know, love, and spend eternity with Him. Thus, trying to live without accepting Him into your life (as if He doesn't have the authority to enter anytime He so chooses) can only make you unhappy and empty. While I had this viewpoint on why people need God, there is one more challenging religious subject that I have never fully understood. Why does God view even the least serious sin as equivalent to the worst? In his book The Former Things, Allen Steadham provides a lovely and intriguing narrative to answer this question. A young atheist named Sean is doing his best to re-establish himself as he works to recover from a traumatic past. He doesn't talk much, leads a lonely life, and has an imaginary pet named Sparky. Sean no longer identifies as a Christian. What caused Sean to abandon his religious beliefs? Will he ever find happiness and redemption? Follow Sean's story as he shows you how capable, forgiving, and all-powerful God truly is.
The first aspect of The Former Things that I admired was the author's narration style. The events are told in the first person, as seen through Sean's eyes. Because of the reader's firsthand experience, the unique characterization and storyline are better appreciated. I found that having a real-time update of every action and subsequent reaction in the book made it easier to understand the plot development. I'd also like to commend the use of vivid descriptions, particularly in recreating gory scenes. Resonating with Sean would have been impossible if I hadn't formed mental and graphical images of his lonely life. Personally, the scene that made it difficult for me not to cry was when Sean 'talks' to Sparky and tells him to keep their home safe, although Sparky is just a figment of imagination in Sean's mind. The author avoids revealing too much too soon. He allows you to watch as everything falls apart at a reasonable pace, and you can't help but hope that the power of redemption improves Sean's life and purpose. Allen did an excellent job in this book, and I eagerly await the opportunity to read more of his work. Anyone who is drowning in self-pity and sadness will find this book to be a treasure that they will remember for a long time.