3 out of 4 stars
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In Discovering The Covering by Shamicka C. Toney, twenty-six-year-old Amia Copeland is poised for success and feels extremely blessed. She is celebrating her law firm's acquittal of a high profile case when she receives a phone call that could change everything. Amia makes a decision that will challenge her faith and bring to light a long-kept secret.
This character-driven work of fiction is 247 pages. The story is written in the third-person narrative from a Christian perspective and blends family drama, romance, and a touch of mystery. It traverses themes of faith, love, divorce, juvenile delinquency, sexual temptation, commitment, and forgiveness. I particularly like the portions of the book that illustrate the characters' prayers and discussions about their faith. The engaging dialogues ring true and exemplify the characters' different personalities. Additionally, the book is professionally edited and contains a few instances of borderline profanity.
Toney's cast of well-developed characters is the strength of the book. Amia is the sassy, faith-filled protagonist. Although she is single and passionate about her career as an attorney, her family comes first. Toney doesn't simply tell us about Amia's character; she illustrates the protagonist's commitment to her family through her actions. When her younger brother is in trouble, Amia immediately devises a plan that will remove Mari from the destructive direction he is headed. However, she first seeks the approval of her divorced parents, drawing from her professional skills to plead her case and alleviate Elaine and Ramon's legitimate concerns. Despite their differences, the couple presents a united front when it comes to parenting. Toney does an excellent job of portraying the family dynamics and how the fairly recent divorce has affected Amia, teenage Mari, and their three younger siblings.
Unfortunately, Toney's character-driven plot suffers for several reasons. First, rather than gradually building upon the storyline, Toney frequently introduces significant aspects of the plot abruptly, relying on hasty backstories to support them. She is careful to include dates to clarify the timeline, but her pattern of constantly interjecting blasts from the past and fast-forwarding begins to feel like a game of hopscotch. Also, while the plot addresses relevant issues, I dislike Toney's somewhat formulaic approach: problem + prayer = solution. As I mentioned before, I appreciate the inclusion of prayer in the story, and I also believe in its transformative power. However, even Christian readers may find it hard to relate to what consistently comes off as pat answers or quick fixes. Instead, I would have liked to have seen Toney allow the characters to struggle more realistically. Lastly, there are elements of the plot that seem grandiose. It is difficult to cite examples without revealing plot spoilers. Suffice it to say that when two characters receive congratulations from a celebrity in one chapter and two others are honored for a heroic event in the following chapter, it seems far-fetched and is hard to swallow. Sadly, all of these factors make the story less believable as a whole.
Overall, because of the strong character development, I rate Discovering the Covering 3 out of 4 stars. I recommend the book to fans of Christian fiction and romance. However, readers who dislike storylines that are wrapped up in a bow will probably prefer to pass on this one.
Discovering The Covering
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