Rachel's life is falling apart. Everyone she trusted has let her down. There have been many lies. But Rachel feels that the biggest lie has been from God himself. Her faith is so shaken that she decides to move to another state and become a roommate with Daphne, her childhood friend. Daphne has always lived life to the fullest. And that's what Rachel wants now. She feels like she's missed so much being the "good Christian girl" her whole life. Time to branch out. But turning her back on God doesn't end the tragedies in her life. And what will Rachel do now that she doesn't even have God to turn to?
Gah! This book made me feel squeamish from the start. I know that probably sounds lame, but I was so worried for Rachel! I lived the life she was about to embrace, and I would never want to go back to it, ever. So it was a bit hard to read about her setting out to live in the world. The story is engaging and very well-written. I felt Rachel's pain. I identified with some of her struggles. And I couldn't wait to see how the story would work out in the end. It was a great story. A tough story. A story with some heavy issues. But a very real and necessary one. If you're sick of church. If you're sick of trying to do everything right. If you can't stomach another day of trying to please God. Pick up this book. It just might answer your deepest frustrations.
Reinventing Rachel by Alison Strobel is a thoughtful look at the fall of a staunch Christian re-evaluate her life and decide to run away from it all, including the Lord. Rachel Westing is one of those church members that if the doors are open, she's there. From her ministry with teenage girls, to her job at the local coffee shop, she's always looking for a way to evangelize those around her. When she discovers in rapid succession that her parents are divorcing, her father is bipolar, her mentor is going into rehab for prescription drug addiction, and her fiance has been cheating on her with her roommate, Rachel has had enough of California and the pain and moves in with her childhood friend Daphne in Chicago. Daphne has always lived life on her own terms, living for the moment and resisting Rachel's best attempts to save her soul. Rachel feels betrayed that God failed to fix her problems despite all of the work she'd done for him, so when she leaves California, she tries to leave God as well. Daphne's life of no strings attached and fun all the time is seductive to Rachel at first, but when Daphne starts acting strangely and the utilities are turned off for lack of payment, she begins to turn to alcohol to block out the fear and depression she's felt since leaving home. Strobel excels at writing sympathetic characters, even when they are doing unreasonable things, and she carefully keeps that tension alive here. Readers will like Rachel, even when she starts making terrible decisions and through her selfishness.SPOILERS: Strobel keeps her from becoming a victim, nor does she ever become shrill or unlikable. For Christians, the book will serve as a clarion call to ensure that the God we are worshiping is the true one, not a vengeful eye in the sky, nor does He require a checklist of duties to be done each day and in return He will keep us completely safe. Strobel has a firm grasp of who God really is, and she imparts that to readers without becoming too preachy or pedantic. Rachel's spiral into addiction and despair is often hard to read, but Strobel keeps the story interesting and the plot suspenseful. Strobel is an author to watch in the future, as she seems to be getting better and better.
Alison Strobel delivers a tsunami of emotion in Reinventing Rachel. I haven't read another book that grew with as intensity and depth. Deceptively innocent in its first chapters, Reinventing Rachel will grab your heart and hold it captive, leaving you breathless until the end. Novel Journey and I give it a high recommendation.