by Kariss Lynch
Trade Paperback: 304 pages
Released: February 4, 2014
Source: Review copy from the publisher.
Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
After much internal debate, idealistic Kaylan Richards decides to join her best friend in serving a short-term missions in a clinic in poverty-stricken Haiti. Kaylan is determined to help the Haitian people, especially as she becomes convinced that God has abandoned them.
Just weeks after she arrives, her faith is challenged even further by the worst earthquake the country has ever seen. People she cares about are dead, and Kaylan questions a God that would allow this to happen and what good can come from such destruction and loss.
Her boyfriend, Navy SEAL Nick Carmichael, does whatever it takes to discover if she's still alive. He's seen death and danger, but he knows she was never prepared for what she now faces. Can Nick be used by God to help her discover the good that can come even in tragedy?
Shaken is a Christian romance novel. I thought this novel would be mainly set in Haiti and show the struggles they deal with, but only a third of the book occurs in Haiti and much of the detailed description was of the earthquake and the immediate aftermath. Since I've read some nonfiction about what Haiti is like, I was confused that problems like AIDs were never mention in the novel, especially as the characters were giving medical care to bleeding people.
I also had a hard time getting immersed in the story because I was constantly confused by what we were supposed to think about the characters. We're told that Kaylan deeply trusts her family and distrusts Nick, but after the earthquake, she more open (trusting) with Nick than her family. And I wasn't sure if we were supposed to believe that Kaylan was struggling against a genuine call from God or if she was simply following her friend's vision and figured God would approve. We do eventually get a clear answer to that one, but by then I had new questions.
Much of the book was Kaylan thinking things over rather than actually interacting with people. If Kaylan and her best friend had interacted more--like showing them struggling together with culture shock (which was blurred over) or if the the memories were shared earlier--I would have understood how much that relationship defined Kaylan's identity. As it is, it came across as a good but casual friendship until halfway through the book.
Kaylan frequently prayed at God and did Christian things, but she didn't really know God. She referred to faith in God as "blind faith," but it isn't blind if you know the One you're putting your trust it. She told a Haitian that Jesus died to "heal us" but never said from what, and I wondered if she really understood why Christ died. She constantly told God what to do and judged Him for not fixing things in her way and timing. So she's going to fix things since God is failing in His job. She further questions God after the earthquake. While some answers were seen about what good could come out of the earthquake, I didn't feel like she'd grown in her understanding of God.
There was no sex or bad language. Overall, if you're interested in the Haiti aspect, you'll probably get more out of a non-fiction book. If you want a novel about a shallow Christian undergoing deep trauma and her family's efforts to help her heal emotionally, you might like this book.
If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.
Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.