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Dogwood, by Chris Fabry, is the first book in a long time that has kept me guessing until the very end. It is set in the small town of Dogwood, West Virginia, where the citizens’ memories concerning a horrific tragedy run deep. This book shows the heart of a small town, and the stories and scars of the people there. Woven into an intricately developed plot, we see the themes of sacrifice, love, and our spiritual life.

Will Hatfield has recently returned to Dogwood after serving his time in prison for an accident that has scarred the people of Dogwood. Many of the people did not plan on forgiving him for it. That fateful night involved an accident that caused the death of two young girls. Danny Boyd, the brother of these two girls, has blamed himself for not saving them, and gives more information about the accident throughout the book.

Will has returned because of his love for Karin, though he finds that much more stands between them than he thought. Karin, now married to a faithful husband, with three children, is just trying to get through each day. She spends many nights sleeping in her closet, and feels like she is doing all she can do to just survive. Her mixed emotions are brought up when Will returns and the memories flood her mind, some of which are about the accident and the consequences resulting from it.

Ruthie Bowles, Karin’s close friend and mentor, encourages Karin to realize the truth about her feelings and memories. Ruthie has been Karin’s constant companion and always seems to have some wisdom to share with Karin. All of the characters have a great struggle to return to their former lives, and show a great lesson on the process of growth and moving on.

There are many parallels to the Christian life in this book. Will and his love for Karin can be compared with Christ’s faithful love for each of us and the great sacrifices that He made. And as Karin, we can sometimes look to things that will make us happy temporarily, instead of looking to the one who loves us the most.

If you do choose to read this book, read it all. There were many times throughout the book when I became doubtful of the themes that were being taught as well as some other elements of the story, which I wasn’t sure were very edifying. I will say that this is an adult novel, and some of the elements of this book may not be suitable for younger teens or children. But now that I look back, it was very well written and the plot was brilliantly woven together. I have come to admire the writing of Chris Fabry, and have realized the sacrificial love of Christ, and the second chances that He gives to me and you.


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Published on 26 August, 2010. Last updated on

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Into the Book was born out of a crazy idea of a blog that'd provide book reviews for teens. There aren't very many book review websites out there exposing awesome, high-quality Christian literature, and there are even fewer that target teenagers. Since 2009, we've been providing high-quality book reviews to the world through our blog. Into the Book has grown around reviews since then, but it remains our oldest project.

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