Angela Hunt’s novel She Always Wore Red finds former Washington, D. C. politician Jennifer Graham with a life a lot more complicated than merely running for office. First, she inherits a funeral home in Mt. Dora, Florida, and has to move there, and then she discovers she has a half-sister she never knew anything about.
Hunt’s latest novel is the humorous story of a woman forced to deepen her faith through obscure circumstances. Unlike many Christian novels, our heroine already has a strong faith at the beginning of and throughout the novel, so readers get to focus on three heavier topics: untimely death, abortion, and racism.
Without giving too much away, it can be said that Hunt does a god job of dealing with the first two topics. With the main character running a funeral home, death of any kind is a natural theme to be brought into the story. Some of the deaths are expected, others are tragedies, but the characters responding to the deaths present real emotions, and genuinely ask why certain things are allowed by God.
In approaching the topic of abortion, Hunt puts the focus on Jennifer, rather than the friend who might get an abortion. In this way, we get to witness the struggle that comes when one must determine to love someone, even when he or she does something horribly wrong. Further, we watch Jennifer work out the difference between supporting her friend and supporting her friend’s sin.
Unfortunately, Hunt takes a different route with her third topic. Instead of giving us a natural, relatable illustration as she did with the other topics, Hunt presents a picture of extreme racism: Christians who find blacks to be an abomination to God. Though these cases undeniably do exist, they are very rare. And though it makes a sensational story, it doesn’t provoke much inner-examination because most of Hunt’s readers simply won’t be that extreme.
Hunt’s writing style in this novel is written in present-progressive tense, making for a monotonous telling of the characters’ every thoughts and movements. We get second-by-second detail of everything from nuking a TV dinner to embalming a corpse. About a fourth of the book could have been cut had these details been left out—along with Hunt’s page-long explanations of common-knowledge items such as public school integration.
Undoubtedly, there are readers who will enjoy Hunt’s entire novel, and others who will want to press through the rough patches in order to glean the goodness that can be found. -- Bethany DuVal, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
Jennifer Graham—mother, student, and embalmer’s apprentice—could use a friend. She finds one in McLane Larson, a newcomer to Mt. Dora, and is delighted to learn that the young woman is expecting a baby. While McLane’s soldier husband serves overseas, Jen promises to support McLane, then learns that her tie to this woman goes far deeper than friendship. When a difference of opinion threatens their relationship, Jennifer discovers weaknesses in her own character . . . and a faith far stronger than she had imagined.