This is a contemporary Christian novel that feels a lot like the adult version of the famed ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’. Altogether, its a story about a man’s journey into his complicated past, but its full of smaller stories along the way.
Tom Schneider is our protagonist who has just run into a brick wall. Seemingly all at once, his life falls to pieces when his wife takes their daughter and moves out. As if that wasn’t enough to break him, Tom has to struggle down memory lane as he faces all the troubles and unsettled matters he thought he’d left behind. Fortunately for him, there is a light at the end of this tunnel as this broken man finds himself and his faith and pushes forward.
Something Better is written well and full of raw emotion. There’s a lot of pain in this story but there’s also a lot of joy, hope, and inspiration. As a Christian I definitely enjoyed the faith aspect and how often the author stressed our need to hold on to hope and to use our struggles as an opportunity to dig deep and grow in many different ways and areas. We got to see Tom, a grown man and a father, learn how to love and how to accept himself and others all over again. It was a very heartwarming and sometimes bitter journey, but it was one that readers of all backgrounds need to see.
If I had to choose a criticism I’d say this book is incredibly long. Length is something I pay a lot of attention to because I really don’t like when books tend to go on much longer than necessary. While there was a lot of drama and emotion in this book, I felt like it was a good 200 pages too long. It wasn’t boring, but it did last longer than I expected. Another thing I really wish would have been different was how typical the story was.
Don’t get me wrong, it was an emotional ride and it has the potential to make you laugh as well as cry, but it was SUCH a Christian story. I don’t want to give you the wrong impression… I’m a Christian, I enjoy Christian books. But I have to be honest, Christian writing tends to follow a very cookie-cutter lineup. At its core, this is just another story about a man finding his faith. Everything is perfect … then everything goes wrong … then he finds his faith … and everything gets better. The end.
The book is good…its great! But it is EXACTLY what you would expect from a Christian author. You can easily mistake this book for any of the thousands just like it in the Christian contemporary genre. There were no surprises, there were no lines crossed, no limits pushed, no heart-pounding moments. I’m not asking for a violent fight scene or a raunchy sex-crazed love story, I’m just saying I’d like to see a bit more edge in Christian fiction and I think great authors like Renz are more than capable of bringing that to the table. Overall, it is a wonderful read that I will gladly recommend to Christian audiences of all ages and anyone who enjoys a good contemporary beach read.