Friday, December 17, 2010
Book Review: Red Ink by Kathi Macias
Based loosely upon the life of Christian magazine editor Li Ying, who is currently serving a ten-year prison sentence in China, Red Ink is the story of Zhen-Li, a woman raised to observe the party line, but whose life proves God is greater than any earthly government.
Zhen-Li falls in love with and marries a Christian man, Zhou Chi, and adopts his faith. When she becomes pregnant a second time and refuses to have an abortion in defiance of China's one child law, Zhen-Li's parents have her kidnapped and the baby aborted.
Now, Zhen-Li decides it is time to take a firm stand for her faith and she begins to teach children about Zhu Yesu ("Lord Jesus") and to distribute Christian literature.
Imprisoned and separated from her family, she soon catches the attention of an abusive prison guard who is determined to break her. Zhen-Li hopes her young faith is strong enough to survive the torture.
In the United States, two elderly women in a residential facility feel the call to pray for an unknown woman in China, who they are certain is in danger. They are also called to pray for a new resident, Margaret, who rebuffs their attempts of friendship at every turn, and for Margaret's granddaughter.
As the story unfolds and these people's lives intersect in unimaginable ways, the power of God shines through to a moving and satisfying conclusion.
New Hope Publishers has titled this series, "Fiction with a Mission." It certainly lives up to its name. While I enjoyed the first two books of this series--No Greater Love and More Than Conquerors--Red Ink is by far my favorite.
As in More Than Conquerors, Macias weaves the lives of many different people together and shows how God works, whether we understand His reasoning or His call. One can't help but sympathize with Zhen-Li and Zhou Chi, who have been separated by her imprisonment. Their young son misses his mother, but to Zhou Chi's dismay, he cries for her less and less as time goes on. Your heart bleeds for this family, despite the fact that you realize they are fictional. Macias pulls you right into their story, makes you feel the pain of their separation and the suffering they endure for following Zhu Yesu.
When you meet Julia, a former missionary to China, and her prayer warrior friend, Laura, their faith inspires you. They heed God's call to pray for this unknown woman in China. Here they are in the twilight of their lives and struggling with health issues, and yet, they focus not on themselves, but on this woman whose name and needs they don't even know. Then when Margaret comes along, God asks them to pray for her and her granddaughter too. Margaret wants nothing to do with their God or them and she makes that well known. Through the creation of Margaret and her granddaughter Maggie, Macias shows that we are sometimes called to do things we would rather not do, not unlike Jonah when asked by God to go to Nineveh.
It took me very little time to read from beginning to end. I never wished to put the book down. While I don't often care for books that leave a character's future unknown, in Red Ink, I felt the story ended perfectly. It took me a little while to get down the pronunciations of the names, but this did not interfere with my enjoyment of the story. I was truly captivated by each and every character in this novel.
Kathi has been a client of mine for years, but even when she wasn't using Pump Up Your Book to promote her new releases, I read her books. Perhaps the most astonishing thing when I think of all the books of hers that I've read is that I've never come across a book where I felt disappointed. I've enjoyed her fiction and nonfiction. I've been captivated by her novels set in America and in places around the world I've never seen. She develops characters that make you want to know them and their stories. She writes with the knowledge and peace of a mature Christian, but she never comes across in a condescending way.
When Kathi emailed me to say that Red Ink had been voted the ACFW book club selection for April 2011, I couldn't say I was surprised. It is one of the most powerful books I've ever read. Not only does it remind the reader that even in our modern society Christians are persecuted for their beliefs; it also shows that even when we don't know why God calls us to do things, He always knows and our faith will be rewarded.
Title: Red Ink
Author: Kathi Macias
Publisher: New Hope Publishers