Book Review: Flame of Resistance

I’ll admit it with pride: I don’t like Christian Fiction.

I’m a Christian who writes, but I don’t feel called to write fiction that is Christian and there are very few pieces in the genre I can stand to read. But, on occasion, there is a gem of a book that I cannot put down. 

One author in the Christian Fiction genre I have really come to respect is Tracy Groot. She has written My Brother’s Keeper, Stones of My Accusers, and the 2007 Christy Award Winner in the historical fiction category, Madman. Well, now she’s done it again with her historical fiction novel, Flame of Resistance and is nominated once more for the Christy Award.

The Christy Award is given to Christian Fiction writers who have written outstanding work in their genre. It is given every year in seven categories ranging from contemporary romance to young adult. It’s kind of a big deal. This evening, the 2013 awards will be presented and Flame of Resistance is a worthy contender.

Flame of Resistance is set in German-occupied Normandy on the brink of D-day in 1944. The story centers around three characters –  Tom, Brigitte, and Michel. Tom is a downed US fighter pilot who looks like the quintessential German soldier. Michel, the leader of a French resistance cell, can’t help but recruit Tom for his plan. Brigitte is a prostitute who wants to do whatever it takes to shed her reputation and become a hero for her country.

Tom embarks on his undercover mission with Brigitte as his contact and their relationship and what they discover will change the trajectory of the war. This unconventional retelling of Rahab is a beautifully written and exciting piece of historical fiction. 

Groot writes a wonderful, character-driven piece through a thorough and intriguing setting. Though the pacing starts out slowly in the first hundred pages, she gives a big pay off in both high tension and action. You’ll recognize the tipping point when you get there and won’t regret the wait.

Flame has one of the most satisfying endings I’ve read in a long time. I promise I won’t put down any spoilers, but as I was reaching the end, I felt as if I was tearing through pages. Some moments in shock, others in sadness, but most in awe. It takes a lot for me to become emotionally invested in a book. My roommates can testify, I was almost too emotionally involved in this one. I would wander about our room, book in hand, mumbling forlornly: “Nazi’s are mean!” But seriously, she understands how to make a narrative work on multiple levels, understanding what the reader wants, when to give it and when to withhold. The way Groot ties up her loose ends and interweaving plot lines left me thinking over it for weeks following. Some of the character’s fates were not necessarily what I wanted, but as I thought over what was written, it was what was needed. Beautiful piece of fiction that I would recommend to anyone.

If you’re looking for something to read this summer, you need to run out and grab Flame of Resistance. Local Grand Rapids bookstore, Baker Book House has it for $5. If even that is not incentive enough, I’ll give you two words: camembert scene. After you’ve read that, you will thank me, I promise.

Best of luck to Tracy tonight. I’m rooting for Flame and after you read it, I know you will be as well!

             – Lex

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