Thunk. A box of books landed on the front porch. The UPS man rang the doorbell to signal the delivery. I ferried the box inside, ripped it open, and pulled out the bubble wrap. Which of the new arrivals would I read first? I skimmed the first page of each book, and went with the one that grabbed me by the shirt collar. Thicker than Blood won the draw.

Thicker than Blood is the story of two sisters. The oldest, Chris, has spent her life searching for love in all the wrong places, with all the wrong men. When she tries to leave Vince, her abusive boyfriend, he sabotages her efforts until she is jobless and homeless. Chris becomes so desperate that she turns to her estranged sister May, for help. May is part owner of the financially-challenged Triple Cross Ranch. While the two sisters enjoy a shaky reunion, Chris soon realizes that it won’t be easy to leave Vince in the past.

What I loved about the book:

  • Vibrant characters. The author, C.J. Darlington, created believable characters ranging from a burned out woman in her thirties, to an energetic Christian twenty-something younger sister. She also included a manipulative, controlling ex-boyfriend for compelling tension between the characters.
  • A strong warning. This novel reads like a caution sign regarding abusive relationships, premarital sex, abortion, and dependence on alcohol.
  • A book-lover’s delight. When the story begins, Chris is employed at a used bookstore that sells antique editions. As a confessed book-lover, I especially enjoyed Thicker than Blood because it pulled back the curtain that hangs between booksellers and book buyers. Readers will learn about bidding at book auctions, valuing antique books, and authenticating collectible editions.
  • It wasn’t preachy. Instead of incessantly quoting scripture, the author created situations where her characters could live out important Christian values such as, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).

My wish list for this book included:

  • A more likeable main character. At times, Chris’s dark past threatened my ability to root for her. I found myself on her side because I felt sorry for her, rather than because I liked her. Chris needed at least one redeeming quality to round out her character.
  • A bit of levity. This book deals with multiple heavy topics such as physical and emotional abuse, death, revenge, unemployment, abortion, and alcoholism.
  • A little less gore. With blood in the title, I didn’t expect the book to be so, well, bloody. There was no gratuitous violence; I just found the level of gore somewhat surprising for a Christian novel.

Overall, I recommend reading Thicker than Blood because it shows Christian love and forgiveness in action; it is sure to prompt soul-searching in any reader. The novel answers questions such as, “How should a Christian respond to an estranged family member?”, “Is there any kind of sin that God can’t forgive?”, and, “Can a spiritual bond between two people be even thicker than blood?”