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Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Author: Charles Martin

Wrapped in Rain is the story of internationally celebrated photographer Tucker Mason. He returns home to Alabama from his work and is reunited with his ex-girlfriend(Katie) and her son who are seeking refuge from a violent ex husband. Soon they are out looking for Tuck’s brother Mutt who has escaped from a mental hospital. But it turns out Tucker’s brother is not the only one who hears voices. Tucker communicates with his dead Nanny Miss Ella from beyond the grave as he deals with his anger towards his abusive alcoholic father Rex. Will Tuck give in and choose the life of self centeredness, greed, anger, and alcohol he learned from his father? Or will Miss Ella’s no nonsense paternal voice be able to get Tuck, Mutt, and Katie on the straight and narrow ?

The author of the book, Charles Martin, maintains interesting tension till the very end and what creates that tension varies. But there are very little loose ends left after the novels 300 or so pages. Some points in the story felt less than plausible top me but these developments created interesting conflict and I was willing to drop my skepticism in the name of story. Wrapped in Rain finds its structure and strength less in a series of linked events and more in the transformation of its central character Tucker.

One complaint I had was with the character development of Rex, Tucker’s father. He felt a bit flat. All through the book there’s basically nothing to like about him or make the reader sympathetic. This is something that might stem from the difference between storytelling and theology. From a theological standpoint you don’t have to understand someone to forgive the way they treat you, but it helps. And it is a requisite for believable characters that play as important a role in this story as Rex does that they have likeable qualities as well as flaws or some exploration into how those flaws developed. Rex is both a father and a son and I think shedding light a little on what his childhood was like may have made him a more interesting character.

Tuckers nanny Miss Ella is flat in very different way. She is the closest thing to a real mother that Tucker has but at times it feels like she is less of a person and more a vehicle for the application of Bible verses to situations in the story. Charles Martin develops Tucker well on the other hand. We’re in his head for most of the book and see him as a conflicting paradox of a man that hides from the messy reality of relationships behind his camera and busy travel schedule at times and in other times comes through as an emotionally available friend tested and proven through adversity.

I feel like Charles explored dialogue more than any other literary device in this book with mixed results. I had to read the dialogue between Tuck and the voice of his dead nanny several times before I got it on a few occasions. Then at other times, particularly near the end, Tucker’s dialogue with other characters sounded contrived and didn’t match his personality. He sounded like he had a degree in Christian counseling or was reading aloud from the pages of Wild at Heart. Hearing Tucker talk about boys and baseball earlier in the novel seems to flow a little more naturally and is rooted more in who he is as a character.

The story is mostly told from the point of view of Tucker and Miss Ella who speaks to Tucker from beyond the grave. This may be off-putting or confusing to some not familiar with the Bible. About a boy or Big Fish might speak to you better. Wrapped in Rain explores the sometimes conflicting co existence of the current medical health profession and the Biblical narrative which reflects a time when medicinal practices were more mystical than scientific and “demons” were far more widely accepted explanations for some behaviors. But by the same token the cursing and sexual content in About a boy or the lack of religious discussion in both it and Big Fish may frustrate others. Wrapped in Rain will speak to you better. There is very little sexual content or language in Wrapped in Rain. It is however far more violent than Big Fish or About a boy, though in its defense, the story is an exploration of “turning the other cheek” as Jesus would say it.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…”

1 Peter 3:15

My girlfriend tells me that I am overly apologetic. And she is right. I will quite frequently apologize for talking too much or for saying something I think might offend her or be misinterpreted. It is a habit of mine. What is interesting about habits to me is that they are an outward expression of something personal and internal. Habit, I learned from a writing course available from the Open University, is one of the ways of sketching a character in writing.

That a charachter bites their fingernails, or always carries a particular item in their pocket or is overly apologetic is great material for stories; fiction and non-fiction. This is because there is a story buried there under that habit. A habit begs that question why? Why am I overly apologetic? To answer that question I must tell a story.

In my early teenage years before my parents had divorced I played alone a lot of the time. I lived on a very busy street and not in a neighborhood which sometimes makes friendship easier for kids. I also played alone many times because my father spent so much time at work. On one particular afternoon my mother, seeing my desire to play baseball but the lack of other players, offered to pitch to me at the baseball diamond close from our house.

It was not too far into our game that I hit a line drive right back to her and hit her smack in the face! That was the end of baseball for the day for me. That was the end of baseball probably forever for my mother. I felt terrible about it. It was at that point that I think I really began to hate my strength. After-all, it had caused my mother so much pain. How could that same strength be good?

So, I stopped swinging. I began to believe that my strength meant pain for others, especially women. I was quiet with my opinion and was very slow to speak up if I saw something askew if I did even at all. And now, at 27 as I begin to believe something else about myself other than that lie that my strength causes pain, I backpedal from time to time. Ok often. I take a swing and run back into the dugout not wanting to see what damage I had inflicted with my opinion or point of view. And this is why I have the habit of being overly apologetic.

Let me say that there is a difference between a story and an excuse. This story doesn’t excuse me from growing out of that habit. But it does let people around me understand me and my journey of growing out of that habit much more. When we as people say things like “It’s just how I am” or “I’ve always been this way” we miss out on an opportunity to both be understood and to grow. Relationship and story afford us the chance to do both not only with one another but with the author of our story and finisher of our faith Jesus Christ.

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