Every Now and Then is the third in Karen Kingsbury’s 911 series dealing with various people affected by the tragedy of 9/11. Though the major characters from the previous books are also in this story, it can be read and enjoyed as a stand-alone book as well.
Alex Brady’s father was a firefighter who died on the job when the Twin Towers collapsed on 9/11. Alex had been a teen-ager with everything going for him — good grades, good family, sweet girlfriend — but he shut down after 9/11. He closed himself off to everyone else in his life and moved away to California. Since he felt God had failed him in allowing the bad guys this horrendous victory, he made it his mission to take as many of them off the street as he could and to prevent tragedies from happening to others. He became a sheriff’s deputy with the K-9 unit, establishing a reputation for courage, bravery and dedication — almost to the point of recklessness and danger. Alex was totally unaware that his boss’s family and circle of friends, who were trying to include Alex, had also been personally affected by 9/11, nor that the girl he loved and turned away now lived in the area.
Eco-terrorists targeted some of the higher-end residential building sites for arson to make their point that excess and affluence was taking a toll on the environment. Alex decided to infiltrate the organization on his own time to try to find the leaders and stop them.
Though I could tell fairly early where the plot was going to lead, the climax still had me riveted, on the edge of my seat. The plot line seemed more realistic to me than the previous two books, and Alex’s struggles in regard to the evil God allows in the world are some that every thinking Christian wrestles with. Karen brings up some points in that regard that are new to me and very helpful.
There were just a few problems I had with the book. The most minor one I’ve mentioned before when reviewing Karen’s books, and that is her penchant for ending chapters with a sentence fragment, as well as sprinkling them throughout. It can be done every now and then for effect, but when it becomes a noticeable habit, it loses its effect. Secondly, it seems odd that a group concerned about the environment would make a point with arson, which is bad for the environment, especially during California’s windy season. That point is made several times in the story, and I suppose the idea is that the terrorist group is not really interested in the environment at all. My last “issue” is a theological and therefore more major one: at the beginning of the book it seems that Alex is a believer, but he turns his back on God in bitterness and grief. Yet in the midst of a fire, he “wondered… if this was what hell felt like…maybe he was about to find out” (p. 263). If he was a true believer, he wouldn’t be facing hell.
Karen’s books are always easy to read, her characters likable and easy to relate to, and her plot lines easily draw one in, while she deals effectively with issues of the heart. This was my favorite of the books in this series.