David C. Cook
“As you see, Mr. Daniels, fear is a way of a life here,” Stuart Daniels’s driver tells him in Scared by Tom Davis. And that is in the safe part of Swaziland.
But Daniels knows all about fear from his last trip to Africa, the trip that made him a world-famous photographer and destroyed his life. His marriage is on the rocks, he’s drinking too much, and he has one last chance to save his job by going back to Africa to take pictures for British journalist Gordon Clandish who now lives in Swaziland.
Twelve-year-old Adanna is hungry daily, almost starving. Her father, a long- distance trucker, long ago left the family and all presume he is dead. Her mother is dying of AIDS. Much of the care of her younger brother and sister falls to her. After having a vision of an “Illuminated Man” who loves her and promises to bring her home after giving her a gift for her country, Adanna prays to the Illuminated Man when the terrors of her life surround her. Christian men like Pastor Walter and Tagoze, the chief’s brother, try to protect and provide for the starving children, unlike the average man of the area.
When Stuart meets with Gordon and some of his contacts, strange things begin to happen. At a church service he hears a voice telling him to feed His sheep. He sees dignity in a man dying of AIDS. But the greatest change in Stuart comes from meeting Adanna in the midst of her suffering. Their impact on each other affects not only themselves but Adanna’s whole community.
Based on true people and events which are fictionalized, Scared is a powerful story told in the voices of Adanna and Stuart. It is not a light, frothy story. It tells the importance of the one, as in the one lost sheep or coin, and the importance of the one who commits himself to helping others. It takes the reader into the heart of the AIDS crisis raging throughout much of Africa. Although he discusses the effect on adults, Davis concentrates on the children, the hunger, the lack of protection from male predators, the insecurity, the confusion, the lack of education, and the vastness of the devastation. He also shows people like Pastor Walter, based on a real person, who allows his own family to suffer some hunger so that other children might not starve.
The story is engrossing and well written, its main weakness being some stiff dialogue about two-thirds through the book. The primary message of Scared is that of “pure and undefiled religion” from James 1:27. Davis, an accomplished author and the CEO of Children’s HopeChest, includes discussion questions and an interview about the story’s background and his work. If you thought A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini was well written, try Scared. – Debbie W. Wilson, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
Stuart Daniels has hit bottom. Once a celebrated and award-winning photojournalist, he is reeling from debt, a broken marriage, and crippling depression. The source of Stuart's grief is his most famous photo, a snapshot of brutality in the dangerous Congo. A haunting image that indicts him as a passive witness to gross injustice.
Stuart is given a one last chance to redeem his career: A make-or-break assignment covering the AIDS crisis in a small African country. It is here that Stuart meets Adanna, a young orphan fighting for survival in a community ravaged by tragedy and disease. But in the face of overwhelming odds, Adanna finds hope in a special dream, where she is visited by an illuminated man and given a precious gift.
Now, in a dark place that's a world away from home, Stuart will once again confront the harsh reality of a suffering people in a forgotten land. And as a chance encounter becomes divine providence, two very different people will find their lives forever changed.