4 out of 4 stars
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The Yoke is a novel by Darrell Dunham. It belongs in the category of Christian fiction.
Barnabas Mitchell is a trial lawyer who has had a nemesis, Bill Cushman, since high school. While the prologue presents a case in which the two are on opposing sides, the story takes us back to when Barnabas was twelve. His mother, a faithful Christian woman, is hit by a drunk driver and spends the rest of her life in a wheelchair. Barnabas stays close to home as he attends college, in order to provide for her, and later attends law school. During a moot court competition, he meets Stephanie Schultz and her parents, who, like his mother, are full of faith in God. Barnabas, however, has been on the fence in that department.
This novel is about 280 pages long. It is written in the third person, most often from the perspective of Barnabas. In his earlier years, Barnabas wrote very actively in a journal, and some of his entries are included in the narrative. The story is told at a great pace, as readers gain a well-balanced and in-depth survey of Barnabas’ major life events, relationships, and motivations. He is a fully developed character who is relatable and realistically grounded in his fears, hopes, and confusion about life, love, and God. We see a thorough unfolding of his career path as well as the shaping of his internal world.
Bill’s character, on the other hand, was the most disappointing aspect of the novel. He is intentionally unlikeable. He is lazy and gets away with nearly everything due to his family’s connections. I expected more from his storyline. He has a minimal presence in the story as a whole, popping up at inconvenient times for our hero. But every story has to have some kind of conflict. Without giving away spoilers, I just wish this particular part of the plot had been more satisfying.
Besides Bill, the other people in Barnabas’ life are truly a treasure. While he and Stephanie appear to have different beliefs, she and her family pray for him and welcome him into their home. His relationship with her family was one of my favorite parts of the book. They see the goodness and potential in him when he isn’t too sure of himself. They are kind and wise, genuinely concerned for his well-being and filled with hope on his behalf.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. It was very well written. Stephanie and her family, as well as many other characters in the novel, set an amazing example. Overall, the characters were so well crafted that they felt real. The love that they had was certainly impressed upon me, as a reader, and I appreciate being able to be a part of their experiences. I would recommend this to those who enjoy an encouraging, faith-based novel or those who, like Barnabas, are on the fence in regards to the Christian faith and could use some inspiration.
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