I read this book because my teenage son and his friends had read it, liked it, and wanted me to tell them what I thought of it. The story is touching (almost too touching), and delivers a moral lesson about the importance of fathers spending time with their children. But there are some problems in the book, as we shall see.
Here’s a brief synopsis of the story: An elderly lady, Mary, takes in a young family of three to live with her. By the end of the book, the young family has grown to love Mary and discovers just before she dies, that as a young woman herself, Mary’s only child, a little girl, had died. Before Mary passes away, she succeeds in communicating to the young father the importance of spending time with his own daughter.
Richard Paul Evans, the author, is a mormon. However, I do not think that the book was written with the intention of “pushing” mormon theology on the reader. Any influence of his mormon theology is more accidental than anything else. You can see it in a couple of places in the book.
First of all, mormons have quite a fascination with angels and believe that humans can actually become angels. This might be the reason that Mary refers to her little girl as “her angel”. When Mary is about to die, her daughter Andrea “comes for her” and is spoken of as if she were in the room. There is nothing in the Bible about our departed loved ones coming to take us to heaven, and certainly nothing about them becoming angels!
At another point in the book, the young father has “angel dreams” in which an angel descends from the sky and becomes a stone angel. This is just foreshadowing of the stone angel that is at Mary’s daughter’s grave, but Mormon doctrine is based on information that was supposedly revealed to Joseph Smith by the angel Moroni. So I suppose that all the talk of angels might make the reader more sympathetic with the mormon story of Moroni appearing to Joseph Smith.
As far as the things that are mentioned about Christ, there are about three brief references that I found. None of these push any particular mormon doctrine, but since Mormons have an unorthodox view of the nature and person of Christ, we need to take a closer look at them:
1) On p. 18 it says that Jesus “ransomed our sins with his blood.” This doesn’t really make any sense. Sins aren’t ransomed, people are ransomed.
2) Like many evangelical Christian books these days, the implication of the “cross” statements in the book is that Christ’s suffering on the cross was for every human being, whether they repent of their sins or not. Again, this isn’t really mormon, but when Christ’s work of atoning for sins is made to sound like it is done for everyone, it changes the message of the gospel.
While this book doesn’t really have any mormon doctrine in it, I don’t know what mormon teachings are finding their way into Evans’ other books. I would not recommend the book to people simply for this reason.
If you are a mormon reading this review, I encourage you to take a fresh look at the doctrines of the Mormon church. I am not pushing any other church on you, just encouraging you to look to the Bible where you will discover Jesus Christ, eternal God in human flesh, who died for the sins of all those who will repent of their rebellion and follow him in faith.