Jungle Sunrise, by Jonathan Williams, is better than I expected. Overall, I’m not impressed with today’s Christian fiction. There are several exceptions, of course, one being Jungle Sunrise.
The best thing about Jungle Sunrise is simply its story. It’s riveting because of its twists, turns, and frequent surprises. The novel actually starts as two stories that eventually merge into one—the story of a young missionary couple, Memphis and Abigail, and the story of a young writer, Jonah, who is down on his luck. The narrative is vivid, and the pace is perfect. There are no lulls. The author tells the story with a good balance of economy and detail.
Further, it’s an action/adventure story. It's more than that, but it’s at least that. One of the endorsements on the back cover warns, “Do not start reading until you have some time because you won’t put it down.” That was very near true for me. It took me about a week to read, but only because I was short on time. It certainly ranks as a page-turner.
The cast of characters is not large, but most of them are interesting and endearing, though character development is somewhat lacking. The story reminds the reader of both the sacrifices and the rewards of missionary life, as well as the dangers that many missionaries face. It also challenges the reader—at least it challenged me—regarding his devotion to Christ and Christ’s kingdom. Conversion is depicted, but not in depth. I don’t know that this is necessarily a weakness. In a way it serves as a subtle reminder that conversion and regeneration is ultimately hidden from our eyes, an invisible work of the Spirit as mysterious as the wind (cf. John 3:8).
My 13-year-old daughter asked to read Jungle Sunrise when I was done. I think she’s going to enjoy it, be spiritually nourished by it, and want to discuss it.
My rating (on a 5-point scale): 4
©2010 Nordskog Publishing, Inc., 211 pages.
First line: Memphis gripped his four-foot-long wooden bow in his left hand as he knelt on one knee behind the thick brush.
Last lines: “Today, I will live,” he declared. “Tomorrow, I will write.”