Posted by: John-Paul | September 21, 2012

Book Review: The Atonement Child

Francine Rivers has written the kind of novel I enjoy reading, one that portrays the thoughts and motivations of a wide array of characters over some issue. In The Atonement Child, the issue is abortion.

Dynah Carey, a young woman at a Christian college, is raped by an unknown assailant and becomes pregnant. The author shows how various people in her life pressure her about having an abortion:

On the Do-It Side

  • Dynah’s Christian father is near to retiring and doesn’t want to take on the burden of a daughter raising a child of rape.
  • Dynah’s Christian mother still suffers anguish over her own abortion yet doesn’t want to cross her husband…at first.
  • Dynah’s Christian college fiancé says Dynah’s purity was spoiled by the rape. He doesn’t want his reputation at the college sullied by her pregnancy.
  • Dynah’s Christian roommate says a child of rape is an abomination. What if the man was of another race? What if he had AIDS? What if…several things?
  • The college dean doesn’t condone abortion but cannot allow an unwed mother to continue as a student. He places a high value on the promising career of her fiancé.
  • For the director of an abortion clinic, abortions are big business, supported by the government. The Supreme Court has declared women would be traumatized by full disclosure of information about procedures, results, and after-effects. She forces a caring counselor to give vague information to girls with questions and to pull them through the procedures.
  • The abortionist doctor doesn’t want women to suffer from the bad medical procedures that killed his sister. He also lives well and has paid off huge medical school loans with the money earned. However, he struggles emotionally over the deaths of the babies.
  • The doctor’s wife questions within herself the rightness of the doctor’s work but refuses to challenge his decisions.

On the Don’t-Do-It Side

  • Dynah’s grandmother remembers the decades of personal anguish and marital stress over her own life-saving abortion. She discusses with friends research linking interrupted pregnancies to breast cancer.
  • Fiancé’s roommate is the story hero. He doesn’t want Dynah harmed emotionally by the abortion. He grieves over his sex partner’s abortion from his teen years. He stands by Dynah through her decisions to keep the baby, to avoid suicide, and to leave her fiancé and school.


  • Clinic counselor is a young woman that cares about the girls and women who come in asking questions. She was reprimanded for giving full disclosure that sent some away.
  • Church pastor was being sued over the suicide of a young woman he had been counseling. He avoids giving Dynah biblical advice or his moral opinion. She leaves unhelped.
  • Loving, comforting God in a still, small voice offers Dynah assurances of love and deliverance. He calls her to separate herself from the urgings of the people around her and promises to provide for her and the child.
  • Dynah: Raised by anti-abortion parents and protected in home school, she’s confused by all the people urging her to get rid of the problem. She’s troubled enough to barely avoid suicide and compliant enough to barely avoid abortion. She just couldn’t follow through with either. She finally leaves home, finds a place to live and work and wait on God’s provision, then returns in God’s time to help the abortionist find peace and to give birth.

This novel speaks more to the confusion women feel before having abortions and their anguish after one than to the issues of choice or whether the fetus is worthy of life. It shows how a woman who’s been raped can handle that anguish and choose to bring a resulting child to birth. The author shows the value of trust in the God of all comforts and the Lord Who Provides.

By comparison, the story disdains abortions for lesser reasons of convenience, career and economics, or shame of pregnancy imposed by society.

Can you believe God has a better, more compassionate, way to end a pregnancy – through birth?

Can you believe He will stand with a woman during one of the most vulnerable times of her life? 


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