Forgiving Sean continues the story that began in Drawing Marissa, the first of three volumes in the Chatham Series. Apparently the first book followed a teenage Marissa Gladstone and her relationship with the slightly older neighbor boy, Sean. Sean was the very popular jock who went on to play baseball with the Chicago Cubs, but now he was coming home with his leg in a cast, his career possibly in ruins. The King returned, but no one was treating him with the deference he was used to. Even worse, his little brother Phillip (the real reason for Sean's return after two long years--Phillip was graduating) and his father had "got religion" so bad that his father didn't even drink any more. And Sean really wanted a drink--or several. Topmost on his mind was Marissa; he desperately wished there was a way to make up with her, but everyone was against him. And then he saw something he hadn't counted on--a serious rival for her affections.
In the two years since the baby died and Sean left her without a word, Marissa had healed physically and spiritually with another young man, Hawke, by her side all the way. As it turns out, Hawke had some deep wounds of his own. But the two of them had discovered the great healing power only God could give. And as they continued to heal, they were sharing God's power and love with the teens in their church. It looks like everything is going smoothly until Marissa sees Sean again. Old hurts reemerge as do old feelings, and Marissa fights an inward battle.
I always look for the meaning behind a title, and, as is often true, there are several levels of meaning here. Most obvious is that Marissa needs to forgive Sean, but Sean also needs to forgive himself and accept the fact that God will forgive him of every sin. Those who love Marissa also have to forgive Sean--even his own family. Forgiveness, then, is a major theme, as are healthy relationships, the love of God and Jesus, God's healing and the blessings of living by God's rules.
This book targets a young adult audience, by which I mean teen and college age, not pre-teen. It deals with some serious issues, like teenage pregnancy and drug abuse, and although Jesus is the answer, the story doesn't candy-coat or whitewash the struggles real people go through. As I understand it, this book and the first one have already had an impact on young people. I do hope and pray that they continue to not only entertain but influence readers.
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