I am a big fan of Harry Kraus' books and this latest one, An Open Heart, doesn't disappoint! The majority of the book takes place in Africa. The author uses flashback to fill in the main character's background and history in order to flesh-out his personality. This is a riveting story and definitely will go on my "keeper" bookshelf.
Jace Rawlings is a successful heart surgeon in Virginia. However, once he successfully saves the governor of Virginia by operating on him, his life changes. The governor's young wife develops an attachment to Jace and he begins spending more time with her in the guise of "checking on his patient, the governor". Jace's wife, Heather, refuses to put up with this behavior any longer and asks him to move out. Then, Jace has a car accident, ending up in the hospital. He thinks his dead twin sister has spoken him and called him to return to Africa where they both grew up as the children of missionaries. Also, the governor's wife is killed while phoning 911 to report Jace's car accident. Her autopsy report has some interesting findings. Is there a plot to frame Jace for her killing?
Jace heads to Africa after recovering from his car accident, thinking if he does enough good deeds he will rid himself of the guilt he feels over his sister's death and the death of others he has experienced in his life. His good deed will be opening a heart surgery facility in African and operating on the poor, who have no way to pay and can't get surgery elsewhere. After his first heart surgery, his patient wakes up with a message for him from the "other side". Is this just postoperative paranoia? Jace hasn't been a believer for a long time. He wants to believe, but just feels empty inside when others talk about their faith. Jace will encounter strange happenings in Africa that can't be explained by his scientific mind. He also will experience the frustration and fear that is part of African politics. Is there really a supernatural battle being fought? Is there really a target on his back, making him a threat to differing African factions so that they are trying to kill him? Can Jace discover the faith his twin sister so adamantly wished for him to believe in? Will he be able to repair his marriage?
The writing is stellar and the plot keeps moving along at a brisk pace. I read this book in a day because I couldn't put it down. The chapters are brief so as to keep the reader flipping page after page in excitement to see what will be revealed next. This is another outstanding medical suspense story that shouldn't be missed! I highly recommend it to one and all! You will not regret the time spent reading this novel. It will whet your appetite for more of this author's fantastic books.
I enjoyed this medical suspense novel that combines Christianity with witchcraft. It is intense, and I must admit, I now much prefer remaining at home. I'll be content to travel through novels like this one.
The author is a board-certified surgeon in East Africa, and he writes about what he knows best. When he includes medical information, the story deepens. I found myself engrossed and easily able to follow along.
Discussion Questions included.
Thank you to Bonnie at Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and David C. Cook for my copy.
I couldn't read this book fast enough to discover all the mysteries within the story. As the reader you will pick up on things that will make you want to reach into the book and say to the characters, "Put this together. Don't you see the connections?"
From the back cover blurb I thought the book would be a bit different, but still it was a great read. It didn't move as fast at times as I wanted it to. A lot of backstory, but it is needed, so I see why the author slipped it in there and in small chunks. It kept me flipping the pages so I could see the big picture by the end.
Most of the story takes place in Kenya and the author gives you a wonderful glimpse into it's beauty, poverty, corruption and customs.
Jace is like many of us -- his faith has been shaken and he doesn't even know if he believes in God anymore, even though he was a missionary kid. Things have happened in his life that make him question what is real and what does he believe? Can't we all relate, haven't we all been there at one time or another? I know I have.
Jace is struggling to discover who he really is. But maybe the more important question is....who does God say he is?
Of course I spotted some Genesis 5020's in the book, can you?
A copy of this book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Set in the beautiful but corrupt landscape of Kenya, Harry's Kraus latest book offers up medical drama, suspense, and spiritual warfare in a fast-paced read. I greatly enjoyed that the book largely takes place in Africa, and the fact that the author himself resides in Kenya shows in the authentic feel to the descriptions of people and places and cultural nuances. I was particularly fascinated by the witch doctor who plays a prominent role in the story, and the way that the people of Africa are so much more open to acknowledge the spiritual forces that are at work behind the scene. I have found this to be true myself in the missions trips I've taken, such as my recent trip to Thailand. Kraus' inclusion of this aspect of Kenyan culture made for a unique twist to the plot and one that I hope to see in future novels from him as well. In terms of the controversy surrounding Dr. Jace Rawlings, I must admit that the actions of the villain did not always make sense to me (and I can't say more without ruining the plot). Nevertheless, the cross-cultural element of the threat over Jace's life made for some extra-intense scenes indeed! As with all of Harry Kraus' books, I most appreciate the way in which he can so seamlessly weave the power of what Jesus has done on the cross into his novels. "An Open Heart" not only provides an entertaining ride, but points to the grace of Jesus at the same time.
I award this book a solid rating of 4 out of 5 stars. Plan on picking up a copy of this book for yourself. You'll be glad you did!
Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher and Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, for the purposes of this unbiased review.
Jace Rawlings has made a good life for himself in the United States as a cardiac surgeon, far away from his childhood as an MK - missionary kid - in Africa, and far from the God of his childhood. And yet, due to extreme circumstances where Jace almost dies and believes his dead sister calls him to return to the place from their past, he doesn't hesitate. Believing he's been sent by his sister, and perhaps by God Himself, Jace willingly returns to Africa to start a heart surgery program. However, no matter how called he feels, the road isn't easy, and there seems to be much more at work than just the complicated politics of Kenya. Can Jace let go of his past, find healing, and find the God who has chosen him?
This book was fast-paced, and a compelling read. Jace struggles with deep loss and disappointment from his past, and has to decide whether he can trust the God he feels has forsaken him. As the twin brother of a girl who loved God with her whole heart, Jace identifies with Esau and the Bible verse that says "Jacob have I loved. Esau have I hated." That's a powerful image for him to get over, and his struggle to feel accepted by God is honest and heartwrenching. His childhood as a missionary kid in a boarding school for missionary kids has turned him off to "Christianese," and that also feels very real in a world where people don't want to just hear big words that don't mean anything to them. Additionally, Jace faces a spiritual battle that is very real to the world of Kenya, and the book even discusses how missionaries don't really talk about such things in the States, because nobody would believe it here.
Overall, I give this book 3.5 stars. I liked it, it kept my interest, but I didn't love it.
I do enjoy the author's writing, and like how, for the most part, his inclusion of medical information enhances the story without confusing the reader.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher, in exchange for my honest review.