Reviewed by C.J. Darlington
Scared by Tom Davis
"Scared is the hand adjusting our blurry lense of the world ... You’ll visit Africa while reading Scared. And once you finish, a little piece of Africa will remain with you."
Here in America it’s easy to hole ourselves up in our cozy little houses with our laptops and iPods, oblivious to rest of the world. Our knowledge of foreign affairs comes from Twitter. If the AC goes out, the coffee burns, or the car won’t start, our day’s ruined. But the truth is that even the poorest in our country would be considered rich in some parts of Africa. What if a bad day wasn’t the barista getting your order wrong but going hungry . . . for five days in a row? What if instead of lying in bed worrying about that presentation on Monday, you worried who would provide for you because your mother was dying of AIDS?
At the forefront of Tom Davis’s novel is Stuart Daniels, a washed up New York Times photographer who’s thirty seconds of fame came from a photo of dead bodies he shot during a rebel militia raid in Congo. He barely escaped with his life and sometimes wishes he had died with the rest of the massacred village. He’s lost his drive, and his editor knows it. Which is why his next assignment in Swaziland could seal his fate. If he doesn’t produce the goods this time, he might not have a career to come home to.
Scared also features a twelve-year-old Swazi girl named Adanna, and it’s her story that is the hardest to read. Not because Davis’s writing is poor. Exactly the opposite. The writing is so good we feel every moment of the girl’s pain; we hear every longing of her heart. Adanna personifies the emaciated faces we’ve all seen on those tv commercials for relief organizations. How many of us have changed the channel rather than acknowledge poverty, hunger, and disease? Reading Adanna’s story brings the reality front and center. Here, right now, in the 21st century, children like her are suffering through horrors we can hardly fathom.
A powerful eye-opener, Scared isn’t an issue novel meant to guilt us into action. This is a compelling story first, and I believe Davis meant for Scared to challenge, not condemn. As Americans we’re extremely blessed, but our priorities need to be re-calibrated. Scared is the hand adjusting our blurry lense of the world. It also addresses the major question of, “Why does God even allow this type of suffering?” Says Davis, “It’s my firm belief that God has already sent the answers to solve the world’s most difficult issues, and the answer is people like us getting involved.”
Davis is best known
for his nonfiction books Red Letters and Fields of the Fatherless. He’s also the president and CEO of Children’s
HopeChest, a Christian-based child-advocacy organization which helps orphans
in Easter Europe and Africa. With all these irons in the fire it’s
amazing how well he pulled off writing this work of fiction. You’ll
visit Africa while reading Scared. And once you finish, a little piece
of Africa will remain with you. Hopefully the Scripture, “Religion
that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after
orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted
by the world,” will remain with you too.
C.J. Darlington is the award-winning authof of Thicker than Blood, Bound by Guilt, and Ties that Bind. She is a regular contributor to Family Fiction Digital Magazine and NovelCrossing.com. A homeschool graduate, she makes her home in Pennsylvania with her family and their menagerie of dogs, a cat, and a paint horse named Sky. Visit her online at her author website. You can also look her up at Twitter and Facebook.