According to the theory of six degrees of separation, every person on earth is connected to every other person through overlapping relationships. For the characters of Nancy Moser's John 3:16, the connections run even closer.
John 3:16 presents the stories of five characters. We meet Maya Morano, a corporate-climber, unable to have children, and under pressure from the family she already has. Her employer is Roman Paulson, a father who lives vicariously through his son, while his own life is pervaded with bitterness and grief. Nearby is Peter McLean, a young man guiltily trading his conservative upbringing for a more uninhibited lifestyle, and Lianne Skala, Peter's girlfriend, who hides pain behind body piercings and a facade of fierce independence. And then there's Velvet Cotton, who's just trying to forget a past that won't stop pursuing her.
The five stories are more closely intertwined than the characters realize, and Moser carries this theme with skill throughout the novel. Simple actions gain unexpected significance as the lives of Maya, Roman, Peter, Lianna, and Velvet converge. On that day, all five arrive at a football stadium burdened with questions, and one reveals the answer that will change their lives: John 3:16.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Perhaps the most well-known verse in the Bible, John 3:16 presents a powerful message that leaves no one unaffected. For Roman, the words have stood as a barrier between himself and his son, a believer. For Peter, they represent the gospel he knows and hasn't reflected. Other characters react to the verse with shame, astonishment, and revelation.
John 3:16 is an easily read novel, full of dialogue and people with personalities that keep the reader interested. The story is simple and the characters are relatable; it is a bird's eye view of everyday occurrences and a gospel message.
Occasionally, I felt the scenarios felt too coincidental, or the character development too symmetrical, but perhaps the novel’s weaknesses are necessary ones. As the stories unfold with mounting conflicts, characters such as Roman, Lianne, and Velvet must continually wonder, Are the things happening to me coincidence or providence? And as God draws the characters closer together and closer to him, we see that the individual stories, indeed, mirror each other.
I don't usually like books with too many plot lines at once, solely because if I really like a character, I want to hear about him or her, and the other characters become less important in my mind. In other words, a few of the plotlines are sure to bore me. But Moser overcomes this barrier by weaving each story to the others. One might say it is the same story told from five perspectives: everyone is chasing something different, but they ultimately need the same thing. They all need the simple message of John 3:16.
I enjoyed John 3:16 and would recommend it to young adults and church libraries. Maya and Velvet deal with regret concerning pregnancy and Lianne and Peter are involved in an impure relationship, but situations are contrasted with biblical perspectives. The content is realistic but in no means explicit and is appropriate for most ages. -- Hannah Beers, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
Five people looking for a reason to keep living are about to find it in the last place they expected. After the loss of his wife, Roman Paulson's life revolves around his son Billy. As a football hero at the University of Nebraska, Billy has a promising life ahead of him. As Billy's coach begins encroaching on Roman's relationship with his son--especially when he brings God into Billy's life--Roman starts to fear he'll lose Billy forever. Nothing could prepare Roman for what is about to happen. Roman isn't the only one whose life has been turned upside down. He's one of five people whose lives are about to intersect on a bright, fall day, when one of them will hold up a sign at a football game with a short message: John 3:16. This simple act of faith will have the power to change lives forever.