About the Book
Book: When He Found Me
Series: Road to Refuge #1
Author: Victoria Bylin
Genre: Contemporary Christian Fiction
Release Date: March 18, 2019
Love Discovered . . . Hope Renewed
Once a strong Christian, third baseman Shane Riley lost his faith the night he injured his knee in a freak car accident. Determined to return to professional baseball and to find the sister he treated badly, Shane retreats to Refuge, Wyoming. There he meets Melissa June “MJ” Townsend, a single mom battling the virus that causes cervical cancer.
MJ wants nothing to do with the handsome athlete—no doubt a womanizer considering the stories in the news. But when a mistake results in Shane renting her garage apartment, they become friends. That friendship blossoms into something deep and pure, leaving MJ with a painful secret to tell. Even more complicated, she discovers an unexpected tie to Shane’s missing sister—a wounded woman who wants nothing to do with the perfect brother who scorned her.
When He Found Me by Victoria Bylin is one of the most exceptional Christian Fiction novels I’ve ever read. This story is real, raw, and not for the faint of heart. If modern-day reality isn’t something you like in your Christian reads, then this is not the book for you. Bylin tackles difficult, real-to-life topics with honesty and respect, yet sugarcoats NOTHING. Bylin’s cast of characters — MJ, Cody, Shane, Daisy, Olivia, Lyn, and Eric — are masterful representations of every-day people. This is the first Christian Fiction read where I’ve seen myself reflected and represented. I applaud Bylin for taking on tough modern-day topics and conflicts such as pre-marital sex, STIs, abortion, addiction, and assault, and doing so without judgment or condemnation. Rather, Bylin illustrates how ALL things can be used by God for good. None of us are ever too far gone to be saved, forgiven, and covered in His perfect grace. When He Found Me is the first Bylin novel I’ve read, but it most certainly will not be my last.
Shane is the hero of When He Found Me, and I struggled hard to like him. Daisy is Shane’s half-sister, and I LOVED her character. When Shane and Daisy were young, their mother unexpectedly died. Shane reacted by becoming the savior Christian boy who could do no wrong, while Daisy chose to walk down a more secular path. Shane kept winning and winning. The more he won at life the more he believed in God. Eventually, Shane becomes a Pharisaical, “what God does for me” kind of Christian. Daisy, however, just keeps getting knocked down by life. Whether she makes the right choices or the wrong, the result is the same — she gets beat up. It all comes to a head one day when Shane, embarrassed by his lowly sister, shreds her to pieces. He judges her so harshly and so meanly he spiritually and emotionally eviscerates her by laying bare all her sins and failings. After the awful tongue lashing by her perfect and pious Christian brother, Daisy does the only thing she can — she runs away. Away from Shane and from his god.
Jesus tells us in Luke 6:37, “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Judgment is God’s job, loving others is our job. When we Christians behave in Pharisaical righteousness and judge others like Shane did towards his sister, we are taking over God’s job. How prideful and arrogant! And, in addition to this being prideful and arrogant, we also run the risk of making others choose to run away from God, which is the exact opposite of what we should be trying to do. None of us are perfect. Some of us mortals make really bad, really harmful choices. We know God shouldn’t love us or forgive us. When a Christian shows us hate and judgment and disgust, we sinners can’t see Jesus. We see an angry, ashamed-of-us God and followers we MUST run away from. But when a Christian shows love, compassion, and support, we sinners see a God who could forgive us and followers who have true hearts for the Lord they serve. So much about When He Found Me is excellent, but this reminder to check our Christian motives before we speak or do is one of the most valuable lessons ever. I don’t know about you, but I know I do NOT want to be the reason someone chooses to run away from God.
I cannot stress how excellent When He Found Me is. Victoria Bylin is a superb storyteller who is not afraid to tell it like it is. I highly recommend this outstanding emotional and thought-provoking novel.
I borrowed a copy of this novel in eBook form from my Kindle Unlimited subscription on February 26, 2020, in order to review. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.