Carolyn's Search

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Category: Self-published
Date Published: October 28, 2004
Number of Pages: 364
Print Price: $19.95
eBook Price: $

Carolyn’s Search is the tale of a woman finding both herself and God after tragedy strikes.  Young widow, Carolyn Helman, moves across the country to get away from painful memories and a strained relationship with her mother. While in California, she becomes interested in learning more about faith and the Catholic Church. The story is told through Carolyn’s experiences as she goes through The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) and also through the growing feelings she develops for a new man in her life.

This novel has many dimensions to it, and many twists and surprises are thrown in. Carolyn’s Search fits neatly into the standard “Christian Romance” category, and I expect that avid readers of the genre will enjoy reading about Carolyn’s spiritual awakening.

Throughout the story, Carolyn is surrounded by her longtime friend Julia, a friendly restaurant owner, a loveable cat, and eventually a man who starts out as an acquaintance and becomes something more. While the characters were likeable, compassionate, and tremendously supportive of Carolyn, they often verged upon being too good to be believable—but I think this is fairly common to the genre. The author created an interesting character in the one severely flawed person in Carolyn’s life, her mother, Margaret. Carolyn’s interactions with Margaret were compelling as they let the reader see into the not-so-perfect side of Carolyn. The relationship allows her newfound faith to be put to the test later in the story when Carolyn realizes that she must find a way to get along with her mother.

The writing is crisp and easy to read, though I didn’t feel completely immersed in the story.  I think this may have been because of the simplicity of both the narrative and dialogue. I often felt like I was being told how the characters felt rather than being made to feel it myself. I noticed a few editing misses along the way, such as the frequent use of “smiled” as a dialog tag, but they were not enough to be too distracting. Below is an excerpt as an example of the writing style:

They drove downtown and found a parking space not far from the market. Roaming through the booths, they picked up various items. Some they were able to identify while others were more mysterious about their function and name. They purchased some vegetables and Julia found a floor lamp. The sun was bright and a cool breeze was blowing. It was perfect weather for being outside.

In my opinion, the strongest points of this novel were the peeks into the personal prayers of the characters. These felt genuine, and it was interesting to see how the characters’ struggles translated into conversations with God.  The night after a potential romantic interest returns to his home across the country, Carolyn prays: “Are You going to continue to bring men into my life and then take them away again? I don’t know if I can handle that. I know I should be grateful for the time we have had together. That isn’t always enough, though.” Later, when she is better able to face difficult situations, trusting the Father, she ends her prayers with things like, “We put him in Your hands now.” It was through her prayers that I most felt Carolyn’s growth in faith.

Sacramental life is strongly represented in the book. Several scenes cover the RCIA process and the various sacraments as the candidates receive them. These scenes were mainly focused on describing the motions of the ceremonies, so readers who are considering going through RCIA might benefit from this glimpse into the process. At the RCIA meetings there are also a few teachings that read like mini-sermons, which I imagine will be received differently by different readers. For example:

The mission of the Holy Spirit is to help us understand the message given to us by Jesus. He stands as a witness of the Truth and guides us to do the same. It is also the responsibility of the Spirit of God to bestow gifts on God’s people. In a letter to the Corinthians, Paul teaches us that there are several gifts of the Spirit, but they all come from the same Spirit. We are encouraged to use these gifts to glorify God and His work. We each have a particular gift or talent that God has given us through the Holy Spirit. We need to humbly use these gifts to help others as well as ourselves for the betterment of humankind. It isn’t always easy, but we must be persistent and rely on the strength of the Holy Spirit to guide and direct us. 

Moral themes touched upon include trust in the divine plan, forgiveness, and the power of prayer. Throughout the story, God’s grace works through Carolyn not only to bring her into the fellowship of the church but to heal her from the death of her husband and deal with life’s other challenges. Carolyn’s Search is a good choice for readers looking for a sweet, coming-to-God romance filled with kind, caring characters.

ISBN-13: 978-1418444532
Original Language: English
Book Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches

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Don't let Beverly's two degrees in finance from Eastern Illinois University and DePaul University fool you---she's far more interested in words than numbers. The Lord moved in Beverly's life to reveal her true love for the written word when He placed her in an investment consulting position in Chicago whereby she discovered that writing quarterly investment reports was by far her favorite part of the job. She left the business world to be a stay-at-home mom for her two children in the western Chicago suburbs, and now that they're teenagers, she's been blessed to have re-entered the workforce as a commercial writer for local businesses as well as a freelance editor for a midsize publisher of romantic fiction. Beverly is also a published novelist under the penname Nicki Elson. She describes her writing as mainstream women-centered fiction infused with a Catholic world view, and so she's thrilled to have discovered the Catholic Fiction site and looks forward to reading many great stories in her capacity as a reviewer. 

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