Although told through a cast of one-dimensional characters, Patricia Haley's new Christian fiction novel, No Regrets, offers an inspiring reminder that it does not "profit a person to gain the world only to lose his [or her] soul."
When we meet Karen and Johnny Clark, the main characters, we learn that their initial success in achieving a share of the "American dream" was not enough to prepare them for the devastation of Johnny's infidelity and Karen's bout with cancer.
In the first several chapters, Johnny and Karen sink deeper into a cycle of blame and denial, each refusing to recognize their own contribution to the marital discord. While they find encouragement and strength in their friends Connie and Tyrone, a seemingly perfect couple, Karen's girlfriend, the stereotypical male-bashing Tina offers nothing but negativity. She doubts God's ability to heal Karen and all men's ability to be anything except "lying, cheating, no-`count" dogs.
As Karen's health deteriorates and the couple teeters on the brink of divorce, it becomes clear that only God can save Karen's life and marriage. In steps the quintessential Big Mama, a matriarch at Karen's church, the Anointed Vision Christian Center. Relying on her unwavering faith, Big Mama prays for Karen's healing and leads Johnny back to God.
Though the characters never rise far above their one-note stereotypes, a twist at the end and a hint that the past may pose yet more problems for the Clarks save the story from a pat ending and give it a stronger message.
Book clubs may find it useful that Ms. Haley reinforces the book's message by providing questions for discussion at the end of the book, urging readers to ponder topics raised ranging from breast cancer awareness to the warning signs of a disastrous marriage. Without these questions, there might be little for deep discussion since readers are practically spoon-fed the book's message. Overall, No Regrets relates a predictable story of a timeless message.
--Tracey D. Weaver is a freelance writer living in Washington, D.C.
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|Author:||Weaver, Tracey D.|
|Publication:||Black Issues Book Review|
|Article Type:||Book Review|
|Date:||Nov 1, 2002|
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