What is Watch Over Me about?
Deputy Benjamin Patil is called to a scene and finds a an infant abandoned, left in a plastic grocery bag. The mother is nowhere to be found. A door to door search yields no result. By the time the infant is ready to leave the hospital, the investigation has not led to the mother or any information. Benjamin and his wife Abbi are registered as foster parents and take the baby girl in. The stress of caring for a newborn adds to their already troubled marriage.
Abbi and Benjamin are a case of opposites. Benjamin is a war vet recently returned from Afghanistan, while Abbi is a vocal pacifist.
Reactions and Thoughts (contains spoilers)
The wars we fight keep us apart, pushing into the relationships that once sustained us. Separating bone and marrow, some wars we walk into, some we are dragged into, and then there are the private wars we carry around within ourselves. Watch Over Me is an account of what conflicts can do to relationships and the picture of what finding our way back looks like for some of us. Christa Parrish is skilled at creating real life characters. I was quickly drawn into the story and felt an affinity for the couple as they walked through difficulties. Benjamin has returned from war and has PTSD, while Abbi fights her own inner war with bulimia.
In my opinion, Parrish has drawn a quite believable picture of the struggle for control with an eating disorder.
“She did it for the same reason she’s binge used, some bizarre paradox of simultaneous self soothing and self-loathing that not even coming face-to-face with the living Christ at 19 could end. He died so bulimia wouldn’t overcome her.”
I didn’t always like Abbi, but I could relate to her and feel her pain.
Benjamin fights his own demons, riddled with guilt from his inability to save his best friend during the war. He talks of praying for his own spiritual awakening, his “dark night of the soul”.
“Well, he had what he asked for. What a fool. He wondered if he would make it out at all.”
Benjamin’s predicament resonated with me. I think all of us who have prayed this type of prayer have had those moments when we wished we could snatch those petitions back. Asking God to do whatever it takes from a comfortable place of ignorance does not prepare us for the challenge. We find ourselves saying, but I didn’t mean this, not this. And this is where we decide. Will we submit to the change that we previously desired? Will we be strong enough to submit to the molding of our soul? Faith growing is not for the faint of heart. It is not an easy thing.
“Nothing had prepared him for the upheaval that true pain could wreak on the soul. His faith had no calluses.”
The character of Matthew, a young man high school student who also happens to be the cousin of the baby’s birth mother, has his own struggles. He is living with his aunt in a less than desirable situation. When Matthew realizes that Silvia, the baby that has now become part of Abbi and Benjamin’s family, is his cousin Sky’s baby, he is conflicted about revealing what he knows. He does not want to betray his cousin, nor does he want to cause upheaval in Abbi and Benjamin’s lives.
“…deciding if two families will be torn apart, wondering if secrets like this ever lose their teeth.”
In the end Matthew cannot keep the secret.
“He knew he did the right thing. But was the right thing ever the wrong thing?”
A big question we all wrestle with sooner or later. All we can do is pray for guidance and do our best.
I like thought provoking stories, and this one is worth rereading.
Watch Over Me received the 2010 ECPA Fiction Book of the Year and the ForeWord Reviews Bronze Medal for Religious Fiction
Issues of Concern
Topics include: teenage pregnancy, neglect, abandonment of infant, life-threatening illness, eating disorders, crisis of faith, PTSD
Christa Parrish’s Author Website
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