Always With You, by Elaine Stock (Elk Lake Publishing, 2016)
How can a good, intelligent, person get drawn into a cult? Isabelle accepts Tyler’s mysterious “family” because he seems to love her unconditionally, and he promises to keep no secrets from her. He’s the exact opposite of her father and grandmother – at least on the surface.
And Tyler himself? His childhood was so bad, he’s convinced himself that The Faithful rescued him – and so they must be right.
Secrets are everywhere in this novel: in Isabelle’s family, in The Faithful, and in Tyler’s private life. And the past has Isabelle and Tyler in a chokehold: Isabelle, because hers is a nagging void, and Tyler, because he knows his too well. Neither can fully embrace the present – or the future – unless they make peace with their past.
Always With You is an uncomfortably believable story of two young people ensnared by a dangerous cult. It’s also a story of hearts looking for God even when they don’t know where or how to search. The beauty of it is the discovery that God draws us even when we’re lost… and that He wants to find us.
It’s a coming-of-age story, and a coming-to-faith story. As it progressed, I wondered how the author could bring us to a happy ending for Isabelle, but she did (which is not to say there won’t be scars and ongoing struggles).
Raised by atheists, misled by a cult, Isabelle finally meets a Christian who shares my favourite lines in the book:
I’ve stopped gauging my belief in Jesus based upon the things I have, or don’t have, in life. I pray because I have to. I need all the help I can get. [Kindle location 3206]
That message, and the reassurance that God is always with us, are well worth reading to find. And you’ll like Isabelle and Tyler, imperfections and all.
Author Elaine Stock writes “family drama blended with psychological suspense.” For more about the author and her novel, visit elainestock.com, where you’ll also find her popular Everyone’s Story blog.
[Review copy provided by the publisher for an honest review.]