Itís what headlines are made of: The strange and horrible things that happen to or are done by everybody else.
I think on some level, most people truly believe they arenít headline material. Sure, we know we arenít perfect, but thereís no way we could ever shoot someone, commit multiple affairs or knowingly expose others to horrible diseases.
In Raeís Revenge and Redemption: Commanded to Forgive, Laverne Iverson does what few authors can manage. She creates very empathetic characters; characters whose shoes actually fit every reader.
The story follows a young, generic couple. Rachel and Matt Ford could be the neighbors across the street: From good homes, both work, both seem happy, no children yet. But, as they focus on their individual careers their intimacy has faded. Each blames the other and justifies their own behavior.
Suddenly, they are the substance of breaking news.
The very first chapter finds Rae waking up in a jail cell. A quick flash back reveals that she has just uncovered her husbandís infidelity and confronted his mistress in anger. As she emerges from her slumber, she learns that the mistress has been shot, is undergoing surgery and Rae is the key suspect.
As I read Raeís Revenge and Redemption, I truly felt bewildered. I asked with Rae, How did this happen to me? How did we find ourselves in this mess? When Matt begged for forgiveness and genuinely sought reconciliation, I identified with Raeís volatile emotions. One moment I wanted to accept Mattís apology; the next, I found myself with Rae, recoiling from his touch.
The story is compelling and moves at a decent pace, keeping the reader engaged and inquisitive. However, the plot seems somewhat unoriginal. From the opening conflict, the progression is predictable: affair, anger, resolution, and finally everybody lives happily ever after. The conflict was single-faceted, developing only between Rae and Matt, and sometimes feeling a bit weak even there.
Beneath the marriage conflict, Iverson attempts to create a bit of a whodunit mystery. Unfortunately, it is explained almost entirely in a single, long, one-sided phone conversation. The result is not as powerful as if the reader experienced the mystery unfolding.
Additionally, most of the moral content is presented by the coupleís pastor in two, long-winded counseling sessions. I finished those two chapters quickly, a little tired of being preached at.
Overall, Raeís Revenge and Redemption, is a very good story. I couldnít possibly consider setting it aside and not finding out what happens in the end, even though I felt like I knew what was coming. The characters are believable. In a unique way, Iverson makes the reader believe that the unthinkable could actually happen to them. However, there are a few structural changes that I believe would have made for a more powerful story.