“What an unholy mess.” (p. 107)
An unholy mess is an apt description for the Madison family as you meet them within the pages of Karen Young’s latest book, Missing Max. Jane’s son has been kidnapped, her daughter is living in open rebellion and her husband has said he “needs his space.” The snowballing after-effects of the kidnapping has brought devastation to this family – a family that has already weathered tragedy just to be together. Faced with an unending nightmare, without God, and relying only upon their basic survival instincts, the Madison family is coming apart at the seams.
Missing Max follows the Madison family through the aftermath of six months since their son’s kidnapping. Never willing to admit that their child is totally lost to them, Jane buries herself in volunteer work and becomes neglectful of her family law practice, Kyle turns deeper into his job as a defense attorney trying to bury his grief, and Melanie, their teen-age daughter, is left feeling that somehow the entire tragedy is her fault. Jane has a Christian friend that she turns to with her troubles, but she grows weary of the offers of prayer and encouragement. Ultimately, the question this family wrestles with is this: “If He (God) has a purpose for everything but He doesn’t tell us what that purpose is, how can we trust Him?” (p 210)
When mysterious phone calls begin to reach Jane, and other events take place that clearly mark her as the target for someone’s sick jokes, it seems almost too much to bear. However, when it becomes evident that Jane is being targeted by someone who knows about Max’s disappearance, hope begins to take root once more that perhaps Max is still out there waiting to be found. The only problem - the family has to survive the danger lurking at their door in order to search for their missing child.
Missing Max is a good story that looks at the pressures brought to bear on a family during crisis and tragedy. I enjoyed the way tension was built throughout the book and brought things to an exciting climax at story’s end. The only flaw I feel I must point out is that Kyle’s willingness to approach Jane for another chance seemed a bit forced. I felt like it was introduced simply to give the author a point to build on later in the story. It didn’t seem to fit the natural progression of the character’s lives at that point. From that point forward, it was as if the author knew how things would end and was writing toward that end. Realistically, things would have been a lot messier, and thus the sudden change of heart didn’t ring true to me.
Overall, I think Missing Max is an enjoyable, suspenseful read. The Madison family does seem to have to operate beneath an awfully heavy load of tragedy. God does work through tragedy to bring good to folks and show His glory, and the author highlights this truth very well. I am happy to recommend this story to you.
About the Author:
Karen Young is the author of thirty-four novels with more than ten million copies in print. Her many awards include the RITA from Romance Writers of America and both the Career Achievement and Reviewer’s Choice awards from Romantic Times magazine. She is a frequent public speaker and a teacher of the craft of writing. Currently, she resides in Houston, Texas