Contemporary romance with relational insights
From now on, whenever I hear the phrase "the power of story," The Dance by Dan Walsh and Gary Smalley is one book that will quickly come to mind. The narrative takes real-life issues that many of us face - lack of communication, the drive to get ahead, acceptance by peers, financial insecurity - and meets them head on in a story with relationship advice seamlessly blended into a storyline that simply entertains. The Dance, book on in The Restoration Series, is a character-driven novel, written in an easy-to-read style that captured and held my attention from the very first page.
On his blog, Dan says this about The Restoration Series: "We’ve written the series hoping to reach thousands of Christians who may be struggling or coming up short of their expectations for a truly happy home." While the focus is on the marriage of Jim and Marilyn Anderson, I think the relational gems in this book would help strengthen any relationship. The novels are mostly set in the fictitious town of River Oaks, Florida, which is inspired by a real-life, storybook-like town of Celebration near Disneyworld. Be sure to visit Dan's Restoration Series Pinterest to get a glimpse of this charming town.
The Dance is a book that beautifully weaves Dan Walsh's literary talent with Gary Smalley's relationship expertise, and entertaining fiction with educational truths. I would have thought this blending of styles and message would be somewhat difficult to achieve, but they made it look effortless. Jim and Marilyn are sympathetic characters that I could easily relate to, and strong supporting characters added richness to the story. I especially enjoyed dance instructor Audrey and Jim's Uncle Henry, the hippie who'd found Jesus after almost dying of a drug overdose at Woodstock.
Everything had to revolve around Jim, who had spent years crafting his reputation, and Marilyn avoided confrontation. But while Jim initially attributed their separation to Marilyn's selfishness, it quickly became an eye-opening experience. And I thought the church they attended almost became a major character, for I have known of churches like that - status driven, prestigious, legalistic. In Jim's thoughts, he "was a pariah now, inside that building. A man fallen from grace. If not from God, certainly from men. . . . One never rises once fallen from grace. Not in this church."
The Dance is a story of hope, prayer, forgiveness, restoration, and new beginnings. The beauty of Christianity is God restoring us relationally to Him, and we see another kind of restoration in this story - the marriage relationship - that reflects Christ's relationship with us, His church. The Dance is an example of the power of fiction to transform lives and I highly recommend it.
Thank you to Revell for providing a copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
Published 4 weeks ago by Carole