Reviewed by Sheryl Root
The Other Daughter by Miralee Ferrell
"...a story filled with forgiveness, grace, and the difficulties of wrestling with faith and belief..."
Miralee Ferrell reveals a family in turmoil; delivering a story filled with forgiveness, grace, and the difficulties of wrestling with faith and belief in her first novel, The Other Daughter.
David and Susanne Carson's marriage is not perfect, but whose marriage is? David works hard at his construction company trying to keep his projects on track. Susanne knows he is a good husband and father, but they just have so little time alone together lately. That's why she is really looking forward to her birthday dinner. It will be time for just the two of them; time to leave the children and their daily problems aside for a few hours. But when a teenage girl with a suitcase shows up on the Carson's doorstep, looking for David and claiming he is her father, all thoughts of a birthday celebration are forgotten. During the coming days, as the Carson's determine if Brianna is truly David's daughter and struggle with doing what is best for both their family and Brianna, each family member is affected differently by her arrival.
David can't believe that a mistake he made before he and Susanne were married—a one-night stand—has come back to haunt him. He knows immediately that Brianna is his daughter, but he can't seem to summon up any fatherly feelings toward her. In addition, he is worried about the affect of his lie on Susanne. He has tried so hard to live out his faith in Christ before her, hoping that one day she would share that faith with him. Now, she is hurt and disillusioned.
Susanne is hurt as much by the fact that David kept his infidelity a secret from her all these years as she is by Brianna's appearance. How can he claim to be a man of God when he has deceived her for so long? This only confirms in her mind that she has been right to keep control of her own life. After all, what good did David's giving control of his life to God do for him, or for their family? Susanne is determined to protect their children, Meagan and Josh, from the scandal and speculation that Brianna's sudden appearance brings.
Meagan and Josh, however, accept Brianna readily. Meagan, in particular, has a heart of compassion for all Brianna has gone through; wanting her to feel loved and accepted by their family. In the end, it is Meagan's unselfish love that is the catalyst for healing the Carson family so desperately needs.
Ms. Ferrell handles the issues she tackles, including the difficulties Susanne has with Christianity, the tension between a believer and a non-believer in a marriage, and the awkwardness of interaction between Brianna and her new family, in a sensitive and realistic way. I was disappointed, though, that I never felt truly engaged with the characters. While I enjoyed reading the story, I often felt more like an observer than a participant.
The Other Daughter is the first book in the planned Homecoming trilogy. The second, Past Shadows, will be centered on Jeena Gregory, Susanne Carson's rather unlikable friend, and I look forward to learning more of her story. Miralee Ferrell is a promising new author, one that I anticipate reading much more from in the future.
Sheryl Root is Partner Database Manager at OneHope, a non-profit organization whose mission is to reach every child with God’s Word. She’s also a writer and a reader of everything she can get her hands on … books, blogs, magazines. In other words, she’s both a data geek and a book nerd. She loves to be able to support Christian authors and spread the word on great books and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, a wonderful community of published and yet to be published writers. You can follow her on Twitter at @Sheryl_Root.