Book Review : Heaven Lake
I’m enjoying my last few days of holidays and found another wifi connection. Prior to my holidays I was looking for some books to take away with me. I don’t read a lot of fiction probably because I don’t like to read straight romance, or books with excessive sex, violence or bad language. So I typed Christian Fiction into my local library catalogue search. Heaven Lake by John Dalton (Scribner, 2004) was one of the books it pulled up. However it is certainly not what I would call Christian Fiction. It contained sex, violence, and bad language but perhaps more worrying the main character, Vincent, loses his faith! Surprising, with all this in mind, it was quite an interesting insight into human nature (except for the 80 odd pages I skipped when Vincent journeyed from Taiwan to north-west China which became a bit tedious).
Vincent was a zealous young missionary sent to Taiwan but he was ill prepared to meet the challenges of living in a foreign culture with little support. I would certainly like to hope missionary organizations do a much better job of preparing missionaries than what this fictional account suggests. It becomes obvious early in the book that Vincent is headed for trouble when his relationship with his hometown girlfriend is described. The seeds of Vincent’s failure were sown here, long before he left home. Once loneliness kicks in he is easy prey for a schoolgirl’s propositions. With his ministry in tatters he sets off on a completely new journey and matures in his understanding of people and himself.
I suspect John Dalton would not like his novel being described as Christian fiction as it would direct the book towards the wrong audience. However the book tells us much about John Dalton’s own spiritual journey through Vincent. It would be extremely difficult for an author to write so accurately about issues of faith without personal experience. So one is left to assume that Vincent’s disillusionment with faith is also Dalton’s. I hope that in time Dalton may come to a better understanding of God’s ways.