Sunday, July 28, 2013

Jesus wept...and a whole lot more

When talking about Jesus’ time here on earth, we tend to think about him as a god in human skin, something similar to how Zeus and Apollo were said to have roamed the earth. They were immortal with all of their powers and abilities but looked human. When we do this with Jesus, we forget that he truly was mortal, with more humanness that you’ve imagined!
Jesus wasn’t just pretending to be human so that he could fit in with us. He was human, yes so he could sacrifice himself for our sins, but also so that we can relate to him today. It’s difficult to connect to an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent invisible being in the sky, and God knows that. That’s why Jesus had to become like us, so that we can know that there is nothing we face that he didn’t face as well.
As a boy, he surely fell and skinned his knee, probably bumped his head many times, and tracked mud on Mary’s freshly swept floor. When Jesus worked as a carpenter with Joseph, he got splinters, cut his fingers, smashed his thumb with a hammer, and got his hands filthy with stain and glue. As an adult in his ministry, Jesus walked miles, on a near daily basis, in sandals on a dusty road. When the woman washed his feet with her hair and perfume in Matthew 26: 5-7, she wasn’t washing freshly cleaned feet that just came out of socks and shoes with neatly trimmed toenails. I’m betting they were blistered, callused, dirty, and smelly. Jesus also had to deal with all of the normal human illnesses. He hiccupped, burped, and sneezed. He may have gotten acne as a teenager and certainly had the occasional stomach bug. In the winter, he was cold, and his nose ran. In the summer, he was hot and sweaty. 1st century Jerusalem wasn’t known for its terrific hygiene: Jesus didn’t use deodorant or brush his teeth. Standing for hours while teaching and then walking for miles, he had aches and pains in his joints and back. He was a real human being with everything that entails!
I was camping this week, probably not the best choice of dates. We set up our tent on Wednesday, Thursday afternoon we had to frantically take it down under a severe thunderstorm warning that had threat of tornado, and we were never able to put it up again in two days straightof torrential rain. So Jesse and I ended up sharing the camper with my mom, stepdad, brother, and Mia. As I lay in bed listening to snoring in three different octaves, I found myself wondering if Jesus ever went through this. And you know what: He did! He didn’t have a camper to rest in every night as he walked through Judea, Samaria, and the surrounding countryside. He most certainly was caught in a rainstorm, and with twelve disciples plus seventy other male followers, I am positive that Jesus lay awake nights listening to much wider variety snoring than I was blessed with. But there’s another part to camping: campfires. The best part of camping is sitting around the campfire at the end of the day, (although Jesus probably didn’t have s’mores). The best conversation always seems to happen around the campfire, as the flames soften faces, and the dark crowds around, everyone leans in a little closer, listens a little harder, speaks more from the heart. I’ve always imagined Jesus speaking to his disciples in the daytime, but now I can’t help but wonder if his most powerful talks with them happened around a campfire, explaining his parables, foretelling of his death in Jerusalem, talking about the Father. His words from John 8: 12, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” takes on a whole new meaning around a campfire.
I don’t say these things about Jesus to take away his glory. Not even a little. I want you to think about what he sacrificed for us in giving up his divinity to come down here on earth. In Heaven, Jesus never felt physical pain, illness, or discomfort. He gave up perfection, never suffering or struggling, to experience life on earth as one of his beloved children who are never perfect, always suffering and struggling.
In movies, when someone dies, they often argue with God or St Peter or an angel about wanting to come back to earth, but that’s ridiculous. When I die and am removed from my body, I am never again going to want to feel daily pain, get the flu, or scratch a mosquito bite! The spiritual body the Lord will give us in death will have none of the little aches and pains of having a physical body, yet Jesus relinquished that to live with and love us. His sacrifice on earth isn’t just about his sacrifice on the cross; it’s also about his sacrifice in giving up perfection in Heaven!
Another thing we tend to romanticize about Jesus is his appearance. Look at the depictions of him in art throughout history: he’s always white, perfectly groomed, his clothing neat and clean, and most of all, admit it: he’s handsome! Even in The Passion of the Christ, a good-looking actor was hired to play him, and in the most recent mini-series The Bible, Twitter was trending #sexyJesus because the actor playing him was apparently “sexy”. But the Bible specifically says otherwise.
Isaiah 53:2 says: He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. I like how The Message Bible states it best: There was nothing attractive about him, nothing to cause us to take a second look. He was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand. One look at him and people turned away. We looked down on him, thought he was scum.
That’s pretty clear that Jesus was not a handsome or attractive man, and that was part of God’s plan. He didn’t want people following Jesus because of his appearance. It was Jesus’ message that attracted (and repelled) people to Jesus. It’s easy to follow a leader who is attractive, consider many politicians today; we often care more about how they look than what they say. Jesus was the antithesis of this. He was not a handsome man, because he was far more concerned with winning our hearts than our eyes. Think again at the pictures of Jesus: I don’t think that he spent time daily grooming his beard and mustache; he only had three years to do and say everything that needed to be done to prepare his disciples for his death and resurrection! That was his priority!
I know that this subject matter may make some uncomfortable, and others may refuse to hear it at all, but when we deny Jesus’ humanity, we lessen his purpose on earth. Because of his experiences as a human, he’s felt what we feel; he’s faced the challenges we’ve faced; he knows what life on earth as a human is like, and we can turn to him for comfort, security, and forgiveness knowing that Jesus really gets it.
Jesus came to earth to be one of us so that when we cry, tears of joy or pain, we can look at him and know that he knows just how it feels. Jesus was a big brother to at least six other children: brothers Jude, Joseph, James, and Simon and at least two sisters. As the eldest child in his family, he knows what it’s like to hold a newborn baby in his arms and feel completely overwhelmed with love. On the other hand, he also changed dirty diapers and wiped runny noses.  He grew up in a large family that was surely filled with love and affection. He knows the private jokes that siblings have with each other, and the way they can make each other crazy as no one else on earth can! Joseph, Jesus’ earthly father, died before Jesus began his ministry, so Jesus knows the grief and loss that comes with the death of a parent. He loved his mother, Mary; you can see it in his interactions with her in John 2:1 in the wedding at Cana, putting her off and then doing her bidding anyway, as well as on the cross in ensuring that the disciple John would care for her after his death. You can also see his love for Mary in his compassion in Luke 7 for the widow of Nain whose son he brought back from the dead; in the widow’s grief he could foresee his own mother’s pain at his death.  Jesus got angry: throwing over the tables of the moneychangers in the Temple wasn’t an act of gentleness in John 2. He was bullied: In Luke 4 his hometown of Nazareth laughed at his claim to be Messiah and attempted to throw him off a cliff, and the Pharisees were constantly trying to trap him and make him look foolish. Jesus was wounded by his family in Matthew 12: the same brothers he grew up with now thought he was insane and came to bring him home away from his ministry. Jesus became frustrated: In Matthew 17, when the disciples failed to free a boy of demonic possession, Jesus lashed out saying, “how long shall I put up with you?” In John 11, He cried over a friend’s death, weeping at Lazarus’ grave.  Jesus was afraid: read his prayer in Gethsemane in Matthew 14 and you can feel both his terrible fear and terrific courage.  He had his heart broken: Judas, one of his closest friends, betrayed him with a kiss. Jesus was abandoned: the disciples deserted him after his arrest. And Jesus felt forsaken. In Matthew 27, at the end on the cross, he cried out, “My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me?”  Jesus encountered joy and laughter, love and fear, heartbreak and personal pain, just like us, and he willingly did it all so that we can turn to him and say, “I know you know my pain, Jesus, be my best friend. Love me for who I am. Heal my heart’s brokenness and fill me up with your Spirit.”
How amazing and awesome is Jesus’ love for us that he would give up an eternal life in Heaven free of any hardship or pain for a temporal one here on earth that would end in his death on a cross? Because he met all of the challenges we have to meet, he is able to say to us with truth, “Yes, it will be okay. Maybe not now, but I promise, someday it will be okay again.” His sacrifice is one that we can relate to every single day: when we get a blister on our feet or a splinter in our finger; when we love our mother or have a friend betray us; when we lose someone we love or feel forsaken by God; wherever we are, whatever we face, Jesus has been there. And he did it out of love for each and every one of us.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Very different reviews

I have been finding more joy in my reading again, so I want to share a couple of reviews from my most recent reads. Enjoy!

Your God is Too Small by J.B. Phillips has been sitting on my shelf for at least two years, and now that I have finished reading it, I'm kicking myself for not picking it up sooner! This classic discussion of Christian thought packs a lot of punch in the 124 pages. The writing is very intellectual and doesn't play down to the reader. It's certainly not a Max Lucado style title with folksy charm and a vocabulary anyone can pick up and enjoy, but the dense text is well worth the effort. I don't know that it would change anyone's mind who doesn't already believe in God, but for me, it helped me to think more deeply about why I believe the way I do while also challenged me to go deeper in my relationship with the Lord. I highlighted passages every night while reading it, and it's a book I know I will read again and again as I grow in my faith. It's the type of book I want to tell everyone to pick up and then form a book club for discussion!

Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls is the follow-up book to her powerful memoir The Glass Castle where she shared her story of growing up with her artistic and unstable mother Rosemary Smith Walls. This novel is based on the life of Rosemary's mother, Lily Casey Smith, who began breaking horses with her father at the age of five, rode 500 miles on her horse at the age of fifteen to start teaching school, and never let any of life's heartaches bring her down for long. Walls does a beautiful job of creating Lily's strong and original voice as she relays her life in a matter-of-fact manner that still sometimes feels like a tall tale. The beginning of the book is a bit disjointed as each story is contained in 2-3 pages, and each new chapter tells another story not necessarily in chronological order, but once Lily gets going, the book moves along at a steady clip jumping from her bigamous marriage in Chicago to her sister's suicide to her marriage to Big Jim and their life together running a gas station, a ranch, and later a small town isolated in the Arizona mountains. Along the way, Lily gives birth to Rosemary and Little Jim, both she raises seemingly without tenderness or tolerance for tears. She determines early on in Rosemary's life that she will never tell her daughter that she is beautiful, so the girl doesn't rely on her looks as Lily's younger sister, Helen did. Jeannette writes in such a way as to allow the reader to see the impact of Lily's child-raising techniques on Rosemary without Lily seeming to notice them herself, a neat trick. Lily is a powerful and colorful character (taking out her dentures often in restaurants to show them to the waitress because she is so proud of their beauty) that she seems like someone the reader would love to take a meal with (perhaps not at a restaurant), because she never runs out of things to say, has an opinion on everything, and lived a life of adventure, but not someone you'd want to actually be raised by, especially seeing how Rosemary turned out. Lily tried to use her life experiences to teach her children about life, but some lessons can't be taught. Near the end of the book, Lily confronts her daughter about her boyfriend, Rex Walls, (Jeannette's father), asking Rosemary if she didn't learn anything at all from her mother. Rosemary's response is telling, "When you thought you were teaching me one thing, I was busy learning something else." Readers familiar with The Glass Castle will see just how polar Rosemary's parenting is to Lily's and how Lily's refusal to show softness to her daughter had devastating effects on Jeannette and her siblings. The title comes from what Lily's father called horses that were born wild, caught by cowboys for rounding up cattle and tamed only enough to do the job before being released back into the wild. They weren't tame enough to be good for work, but had lost the wild impulses that allowed them to live free and were good for nothing after; readers can see similarities between the titular horses and Lily, her father, and Rosemary, all a little bit lost in the world but doing their best to get by. Thoroughly enjoyable, the book is an excellent read, whether you have read The Glass Castle or not, and captures the voice of a woman who lived a fascinating life and lived to inspire a granddaughter to want something better for her own.

Friday, November 09, 2012


Placebo by Steven James is the first book in his new Jevin Banks' Experience series. Jevin was a successful escape artist until his wife inexplicably drove her van into a lake, drowning herself and their twin sons. Haunted by their deaths and blaming himself for not being able to rescue them, Jevin has started a new career using his magician's skills to expose psychics and paranormal experts using the tricks he knows all too well. His latest job is to expose the fakery of a quantum physicist, Dr. Tambryn, who is claiming to be able to prove a form of telepathy between people who have a close relationship. His trusted team of Charlene, his "lovely assistant" and Xavier, his tech guy with a taste for conspiracy theories, travel with him to Tambryn's clinic, but their plans are suddenly changed when an assassin tries to murder the doctor, which exposes a link between the clinic and a pharmaceutical firm. Jevin's determination to find the truth could lead him all the way to the White House and question all that he knows to be true. James has become one of my favorite authors with his Patrick Bowers series, and while I was initially disappointed that this book wasn't in that series, Jevin quickly won me over with his broken heart and desire to save everyone around him and make up for those he couldn't save. James grounds the story in scientific fact, making the wild theories inside seem all too possible, and while Jevin's skill set wouldn't seem that powerful, his clever mind makes him a smart action hero. His team, Charlene, Xavier, and Fionna (the technical queen who with her homeschooled children can break into any computer) add both humor and heart to the story and keep Jevin grounded. Placebo will have you wondering just how much James has made up and what is true, and the political machinations will have ramifications far into the series. I can't wait to read the next book in the series!

Thank you to Revell Books for providing me with a copy of this book for review.

Available in November from Revell, a division of the Baker Publishing Group at your favorite bookseller. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Beyond the Storm

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Beyond the Storm
Abingdon Press (October 2012)
Carolyn Zane


Author of 35 books, wife, mother and yes…hot (flasher) lives with her fabulous husband, Matt and their 5 children and 3 dogs in the scenic Willamette Valley in Oregon. When asked to describe her family, Carolyn likens her crowd to the Brangelia Bunch saying modestly, “Only we’re better looking.” Right now,Carolyn is back in the saddle with her new title: Beyond The Storm, coming out in October 2012! In the mean time, be sure to catch her on the critically acclaimed TOOHOTMAMAS Blog where Carolyn and Wendy tackle Marriage, motherhood and menopause: How to do all three and stay out of prison! They are hilarious! You'll wet yourself, guaranteed! Visit them at:


After a tornado rips through her town, store owner Abigail comes across a piece of fabric from a wedding dress among the devastation. Abigail is moved to start collecting other swatches of fabric she finds – her neighbor’s kitchen curtains, a man’s necktie, a dog’s bed – which she stashes in shopping bags. As she pursues her seemingly absurd quest, horrible realities spark the question, “What kind of a God would allow such tragedy?” 

As she struggles to reconcile her right to happiness amidst the destruction, Abigail begins piecing together a patchwork quilt from the salvaged fabric in hopes it will bring some peace. But a new relationship with Justin, a contractor, may require too much of her fragile heart.  Will her pain and questions of faith give way to the courage to love?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Beyond the Storm, go HERE.

Today marks the end of Christy's Book Blog as it has been for the last 7-1/2 years. No one's life remains the  same for that period of time, and mine has changed since the inception of my blog. During this time, I have made so many friends and read wonderful books I may never have picked up without the opportunity to blog them. But I don't have the time to read like I used to; in 2010 I read 445 books, in 2011  I read 250. This year I have yet to break 100. I know that's still more than many others, but for me, it makes it so that I want to make sure that the books I read are ones I truly love and want to share hours with. I spent some time today looking through a list of the books I've read during this time, and there were some I wish I hadn't wasted my time on, some I love dearly years after putting them down, but the majority I can't remember a single thing about them. I want to read only memorable books. I may still share my reviews with you here, but there won't be any more blog tours (except for the rare one I signed up for prior to this and need to fulfill my obligation to). Thank you so much everyone for visiting me here, reading my reviews, and maybe even reading some of my recommendations. I apologize for being mostly absent for the last several months. I hope that our time here together has blessed you somehow.

God bless,

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Bridesmaid

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Bridesmaid
Bethany House Publishers (September 11, 2012)
Beverly Lewis


Beverly's first venture into adult fiction is the best-selling trilogy, The Heritage of Lancaster County, including The Shunning, a suspenseful saga of Katie Lapp, a young Amish woman drawn to the modern world by secrets from her past. The book is loosely based on the author's maternal grandmother, Ada Ranck Buchwalter, who left her Old Order Mennonite upbringing to marry a Bible College student. One Amish-country newspaper claimed Beverly's work to be "a primer on Lancaster County folklore" and offers "an insider's view of Amish life."

Booksellers across the country, and around the world, have spread the word of Beverly's tender tales of Plain country life. A clerk in a Virginia bookstore wrote, "Beverly's books have a compelling freshness and spark. You just don't run across writing like that every day. I hope she'll keep writing stories about the Plain people for a long, long time."

A member of the National League of American Pen Women, as well as a Distinguished Alumnus of Evangel University, Lewis has written over 80 books for children, youth, and adults, many of them award-winning. She and her husband, David, make their home in Colorado, where they enjoy hiking, biking, and spending time with their family. They are also avid musicians and fiction "book worms."


The Latest in Chart-Topping Amish Fiction from Beverly Lewis

Twenty-seven-year-old Joanna Kurtz has made several trips to the altar, but never as a bride. The single young Amishwoman is a closet writer with a longing to be published something practically unheard of in her Lancaster County community. Yet Joanna's stories aren't her only secret. She also has a beau who is courting her from afar, unbeknownst even to her sister, Cora, who, though younger, seems to have suitors to spare.

Eben Troyer is a responsible young Amishman who hopes to make Joanna Kurtz his bride--if he can ever leave his parents' farm in Shipshewana, Indiana. Yet with his only brother off in the English world, intent on a military career, Eben's hopes for building a life with his dear Joanna are dimming, and patience is wearing thin. Will Joanna ever be more than a bridesmaid?

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Bridesmaid, go HERE.

The Bridesmaid by Beverly Lewis is the second book in the Home to Hickory Hollow series about a quiet Amish community in Pennsylvania. Joanna Kurtz was introduced in the first book, The Fiddler, as an imaginative and sweet Amish woman. In this book, she becomes more fully rounded as a woman well past the age most Amish women are married, and friends and family are starting to consider her a Maidel, old maid. Joanna has always sought refuge in her secret writings, stories that she writes in journals, never intending to share them with others, mindful of the Amish ban on seeking publicity or praise. When she meets Eben Troyer from Shipshewana, Indiana at a family get-together in Virginia Beach, the two have an immediate connection that grows quickly into a long distance relationship through letters and clandestine phone calls. But Eben didn't tell her that his ability to move to Hickory Hollow is dependent on his brother Leroy's returning to the Plain life. Have you ever read a story and found the characters bled over into your real life? I'm embarrassed to admit this, but last night when I went to bed (in the middle of the book) I caught myself asking the Lord to help Joanna and Eben's relationship. That's truly a sign of a good novel, where the characters are compelling and the story poignant. Some readers may become frustrated with Joanna and Eben's passivity, but their trust in the Lord is a powerful message to the story. I didn't like the character of Joanna's younger sister, Cora Jane; she seemed to vindictive and judgmental that when she has a change of heart, it didn't seem realistic because it was too radical. I truly liked Joanna and Eben and felt that some of the other plotlines: the quilt, Cora Jane, and Leroy, distracted from their story at times. I also wish that Amelia, the main character from the first novel, had made an appearance, but I still enjoyed the book and will definitely pick up the next book in the series. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Fistful of Collars

A Fistful of Collars by Spencer Quinn is the fifth book in the Chet & Bernie mystery series about Chet the dog and his owner Bernie Little, a private detective. Bernie and Chet are hired by the mayor's office to keep an eye on movie star, Thad Perry, whose new movie is shooting in town and good for business, but he has a reputation for trouble. Bernie's curiosity makes him check into Thad's past which sends the pair on one of most intricate cases of their career. The case gets even more complicated when Bernie's son, Charlie, is hired as an extra for the film and actually shows a bit of talent. Bernie and Chet are quite a team, but it's Chet's narration that has made it one of my favorite series. Quinn must be part dog (that's a compliment!) because Chet feels incredibly real with his extraordinary love for Bernie and Charlie, his short attention span, and his normal doggy behavior: eating the food under car seats, acting out when family tension rises, and getting easily distracted whenever something more interesting catches his attention. Quinn changes things up a bit in this novel; Chet never gets separated from Bernie (which would eventually get old), Bernie and Susie are re-evaluating their relationship, and Bernie is forced to question his trust in an old friend and colleague. This book could easily slip into being too cutesy or a one-trick pony (I would love to hear Chet's explanation for that phrase), but Quinn adds real drama and tension. Bernie's world is a occasionally a dark one, but Chet's narration keeps it from turning too cruel, and he often humanizes the tragedy. It's going to be a long wait for another whole year til Chet & Bernie's next adventure.

Thank you to Atria Books for providing me with a copy of this book for review!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Avon Inspire; Original edition (September 4, 2012)
Shelley Shepard Gray


Since 2000, Shelley Sabga has sold over thirty novels to numerous publishers, including HarperCollins, Harlequin, Abingdon Press, and Avon Inspire. She has been interviewed by NPR, and her books have been highlighted in numerous publications, including USA Today and The Wall Street Journal.

Under the name Shelley Shepard Gray, Shelley writes Amish romances for HarperCollins’ inspirational line, Avon Inspire. Her recent novel, The Protector, the final book in her “Families of Honor” series, hit the New York Times List, and her previous novel in the same series, The Survivor, appeared on the USA Today bestseller list. Shelley has won the prestigious Holt Medallion for her books, Forgiven and Grace, and her novels have been chosen as Alternate Selections for the Doubleday/Literary Guild Book Club. Her first novel with Avon Inspire, Hidden, was an Inspirational Reader’s Choice finalist.

Before writing romances, Shelley lived in Texas and Colorado, where she taught school and earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education. She now lives in southern Ohio and writes full time. Shelley is married, the mother of two children in college, and is an active member of her church. She serves on committees, volunteers in the church office, and currently leads a Bible study group, and she looks forward to the opportunity to continue to write novels that showcase her Christian ideals.

When she’s not writing, Shelley often attends conferences and reader retreats in order to give workshops and publicize her work. She’s attended RWA’s national conference six times, the ACFW conference and Romantic Times Magazine’s annual conference as well as traveled to New Jersey, Birmingham, and Tennessee to attend local conferences.

Check out Shelley's Facebook Fan page

A murder is solved and a quiet Amish community must deal with the repercussions. Amid the surprising revelations, can a newfound love survive?

As the search for Perry Borntrager's killer continues, Jacob Schrock feels like his world is about to crumble. Right before Perry went missing, he and Jacob got into a fistfight. Jacob never told anyone what happened that terrible night. He's good at keeping secrets—including his love for Deborah, Perry's sister. But when Deborah takes a job at his family's store and their friendship blossoms, Jacob senses everything is about to be revealed.

Deborah has been searching for a slice of happiness ever since her brother's body was discovered. When the police start questioning Jacob, Deborah can't believe that the one person she's finally allowed in could be the one responsible for her brother's death. Will she believe what everyone seems to think is the truth . . . or listen to her heart, and hope there is still one more person who is keeping secrets in Crittenden County?

If you would like to read the first chapter excerpt of Found, go HERE.

 Found by Shelley Shepard Gray is the final book in the Secrets of Crittenden County series about how the murder of Perry Borntrager shakes up his Amish community. While the police believe they are close to finding his killer, Perry's former best friend, Jacob Schrock has much to regret and hide about his final meeting with Perry. Deborah, Perry's younger sister, is finally starting to break out from her parents' shell and find a life of her own, which includes working at Schrocks' Variety Store. She's had a crush on Jacob since she was a little girl who followed Perry and Jacob everywhere, but since Perry stole from the store and turned to drugs, Jacob has treated her as though she were the villain. But Jacob is finally starting to see Deborah as her own person instead of as an extension of the Borntrager family, and he can see just what a beautiful woman she has become, but as details of Perry's last day on earth emerge, it tests the couple's newfound attraction. Gray, as always, has created a town filled with people who feel very real and readers would love to visit or even move to! Deborah is the central character in this book, and she's a real standout. Just finding her way and strength, I wish Gray would continue with her story because she's a rare find. There are few flaws in the book: Jacob apologizes to Deborah her first day working at the store, and she is touched  by his change of heart, yet the next time they meet things are just as tense; and after Luke interviews Jacob about the murder, he is certain of Jacob's guilt, yet just a page later he believes his story. In the end, Gray has done a great job of portraying a community's reaction to the murder of a son and how it will impact them all in the years to come. She was more interested in focusing on that than on the gory details of death or the intricacies of a police investigation, and the story is powerful because of her focus on the people.