Saturday, April 6, 2013

Book Review: Not Guilty

Not GuiltyNot Guilty by Teresa Pollard

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Engaged.  Then raped by a masked man, and pregnant with his child.  This is the situation Carrie Shephard finds herself in back in 1974.  Her parents, knowing something is wrong, don’t push for details.  This seems a bit unbelievable because if I had a twenty-one year old daughter and her behavior changed so radically, I would want to know why!  Also unbelievable to me is the fact that the Christian university she attends doesn’t expel her for being pregnant.  I don’t say this lightly.  The Christian college I attended in the 1980s made a girl quit after being raped when she was pregnant, so for a school to be that open minded in 1974 seemed a stretch for me.

The story was great, but the dialogue didn’t seem true to life, nor did the fact that everyone seemed to be evangelizing every time they turned around.  Yes, Christians are called to make disciples, but it is rare that people actually share their faith.  I wasn’t also sure if I could believe a man would behave in the situation the way Joe, Carrie’s fiancé, did.  While we are called to forgive, he went above and beyond that.  I’m not saying a man couldn’t do that, but I question how many would do what he did.

True to what I believe would happen if this situation were real, there was a lot of gossip and lies spread in the church Carrie’s father pastored.  Given one of the main settings is a church, there will be a number of characters, but there seemed to be too many, and I was left just trying to figure out who was who.  In fact there were so many that after 189 pages of text, there were twenty seven  characters listed in the “Where are they now” epilogue.  I think the book would have flowed better if the main characters were cut in about half!  (Also unbelievable was when the rapist asked for a stronger sentence to show his remorse!) 

I did enjoy this book for what it is -- a work of fiction.  Usually I like my fiction a little more believable as I know I wouldn’t have responded as such), but it was still a good read and left me wondering what I would have done -- or what my friends would have done -- given the same situation.  There is a discussion guide at the back if you want to use it as a reading group selection.   If you are looking for a book with a unique situation, this is sure to fit that criterion.  I’ve not seen much historical fiction set in this era, nor with this subject theme.

Disclosure of Material: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review program, which requires an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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