Book Review: "Healing Sands" by Nancy Rue and Stephen Arterburn

Ryan Alexander-Coe is a talented photojournalist who has been on assignment all over the world. But when her two sons choose to live with their father after her divorce, Ryan must give her career up for a small-town newspaper job in order to be near them.

Life spirals out of control when her fifteen-year-old son is arrested. Desperation--both over the fact that she cannot believe her son committed this crime and that he refuses to talk to her--sends her anger level soaring . . . and eventually sends her storming into Dr. Sullivan Crisp's office in search of ways to cope with her anger. Sully is in town assisting at one of his clinics and continuing his search for Belinda Cox, the woman whose guilt-inducing counseling caused the death of his wife and daughter. When Sully's search ends in disaster, both he and Ryan will have to fully rely on God--rather than themselves--to survive these storms.

This is the third book in the Sullivan Crisp series and the third book that again has unhappy characters in it. Right from the get go, the reader immediately learns that Ryan is not a happy woman. She's divorced, she doesn't have custody of her kids and she has major anger management issues. Then her son is accused of murder and a hate crime. It's a mom's worst nightmare and Ryan has trouble trying to figure out how to handle it. Ryan's story, while unique for Christian fiction, is not unfamiliar as there are many parents and women who have gone through what she does. From her career to trying to handle both her children to dealing with her ex-husband's new girlfriend, she struggles with how to manage it all.

I wonder about soccer moms sometimes. I really hope when that time in my life comes that I am not like most of the moms portrayed in the book. And then thing is, the book doesn't focus on stereotypes. I know moms who act exactly like that too. It was nice though to see that some of them do have a friendlier, less competitive side as well.

To be honest, while I enjoyed Ryan's story, I really wanted to read more about Sully's story. This is probably because this is now the third book where we are learning more and more about what really happened with his wife. It's quite funny because while I was reading the first book, I had complained that the sections on Sully were slow and took away from the story. Now with this book I felt like there wasn't of it! I was a bit disappointed about what happened to Belinda. I was hoping for justice and an explanation, and perhaps even remorse. Instead, it felt like a cop-out resolution. I think it bothered me because there are people who think like her out there and use Christianity as an excuse to spread their beliefs and can potentially harm others. I did appreciate how Sully has grown since the first book. If he had found Belinda then, the same result would have probably happen by his own hands, yet now he had planned on just talking to her.

Overall I enjoyed the story. It's not your typical Christian fiction. The characters here are flawed and come across very real. It is very refreshing to read about characters that DO have problems and don't always want to fix them. I know this book wraps up the series and while I am sad to see the story end, I really would love to read another book more about the Belinda issues. I think that would make for a fascinating read.

Healing Sands by Nancy Rue and Stephen Arterburn is published by Thomas Nelson (2009)

This review copy was provided by the publisher


  1. Great review! I hadn't heard of this series and it's nice to know more about them.


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