A tight-knit community. A missing girl. A potential romance. Kathleen Robison introduces readers to the amicable Bay Town community while exposing the murky undercurrent that can taint even the most charming neighborhoods. As much as we wish that idyllic towns truly existed, a quick glance at the news headlines belies that hope, and while it is easier and more comfortable to ignore the unsavory aspects of the real world, that is not what Christ commands us to do. Stories such as Shattered Guilt may be fictional, but the situations they demonstrate are not. By taking a Christian approach to the prevalent evil of human trafficking, Robison conveys her message in a pure manner, without gratuitous details or profane language.
With predominant themes of guilt and trust, Shattered Guilt reaches readers of many age groups, from teens upward, who will identity with the characters’ struggles. Robison develops a diverse panoply of characters, including Christians and unbelievers, victims and criminals. As is the case in daily life, they are dynamic, contending with fears and circumstances that challenge them. Single-mom Melanie is still recovering from the death of her parents and is on the verge of losing her home and bridal business, and she sometimes has residual guilt over her failed marriage. Her ex, Chris, deals in real estate and enjoys a good time traveling all over the country, but when their daughter Lacey is attacked, things begin to hit home. Lacey’s friend, Virginia, disappears, and signs begin pointing toward a human trafficking ring out of New Orleans, one that Melanie’s sister Charlene is investigating. To top it all off, Melanie has just begun opening her heart to a new romance, but maybe God is directing her to a different kind of second chance.
In the midst of frightening events that challenge their perception and beliefs, as well as their view of each other, the characters come to a better understanding of what it means to love one’s neighbor and to look beyond themselves to recognize and attend to the needs of others. There are many Virginias out there, young girls who have never been taught how precious they are to God but instead become “a haplessly discarded burden” like the one in this story. Similarly, Captain Jack and Joe both stand out to me as unique secondary characters whose roles undergird the narrative and emphasize the fact that sometimes the most humble figures are the ones who end up playing such significant roles in our lives. At the end of the day, regardless of our circumstances, it all comes down to trusting God. A choice that we each make continually, and one that we can return to when we inevitably fail. As Melanie affirms, “It was time to trust God again.”