“The Shelter at Papa’s Farm” by Elizabeth M. White is a Christian fiction book with a promising premise. A man is driven to almost maniacal actions by a vision sent from God to prepare the family farm in rural New Hampshire for a coming nuclear war. While his family believes him to be a bit of a radical Christian, they have no idea why he is so adamant that they all be at the farm on a particular weekend and why all he can talk about is getting right with God. Little do they know that what the future holds is mild compared to what he is trying to tell them. This book is a valiant effort from a first time author, however, it doesn’t live up to its potential in many areas.
2012 Christy nominees for suspense, visionary and young adult
This is the synopsis found at Amazon:
James and his sister, Alisha, have argued most of their adult life regarding the Bible, the second coming of Christ, and the end of the world. But James knows that the time is near. He manages to get most of his loved ones to Papa’s farm in New Hampshire, but his two nieces are away at school in different parts of the country. After hearing the warning sirens, James hurries his family across the dirt road and into the shelter he and his friend Peter have built. This, as James has known for months, will be their home for the next two years.
This sounds like the makings of a great story about being cooped up with one’s family in close quarters and learning to rely on one another and God for everything when the world is blown to bits, but the story is mostly dialogue between characters. Unfortunately, all the characters, young and old, talk in the same stilted way. The only one who seems to have a voice of his own is Peter, but more about him in a bit. The way the characters talk seems unrealistic, especially given that they have just experienced something generations of Americans have been fearing; the dropping of a nuclear bomb.
The bomb is dropped by ‘the Iraqi’ or ‘the Iraqi madman.’ This person is never given a name, though it would most likely be Sadaam Hussein since the given timeline in the books starts in 2012. The shelter that James and his family find themselves in sustains them for more than two years as they wait for the fallout from the bomb to dissipate and try to make connections via CB radio with family members unable to make it to the shelter in time. The author does an adequate job of describing the various aspects of the shelter including the second level where farm animals and several trees and plants are kept to provide the inhabitants with food.
Other issues, besides the characters not being fully developed include the way the characters are able to secure any necessary traveling supplies from the military. They simply talk to a commanding officer, he tells them to go to the supply area and tell them what they need. These supplies include ammunition, food, clothing, wagons, horses and more. The military also let the survivors travel with them at various times.
The parts of this book that were intriguing included who the Iraqis gained as allies in their war against America. Cuba, South America and Mexico united in an attempt to defeat America, most of Europe, and Russia. Australia was mentioned at the beginning of the book as being neutral and supplying both sides with needed items.
Throughout the book, James’ friend Peter hinted at having an identity different from what everyone believed. For those who plan on reading this book, this reviewer won’t spoil it. Although this was a good try at having a surprise ending, it was neither a surprise nor a realistic one from the Examiner’s viewpoint. Again, without spoiling it for those that have yet to read the book, if one wants to write a book based on Christian themes, those themes cannot contradict what the Bible says. The revealing of Peter’s true identity went against what this reader knows the Bible to say.
All authors have to start somewhere and this reader hasn’t even ever tried to write a book. The time and energy that goes into developing characters, making sure the story makes sense to others and that the message one is trying to make is clear are all aspects of a well-written book. Unfortunately, for this reviewer, those aspects were lacking in “The Shelter at Papa’s Farm.”
Title: “The Shelter at Papa’s Farm”
Author: Elizabeth M. White
Publisher: Tate Publishing, 2012
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The Examiner received a free copy of this book from the author.