WARNING: Reading this article may give away things in the story ranging from unimportant to plot turners.
The Calling of Emily Evans by Janette Oke
Type: Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction
Basic Plot: Emily Evans is a frazzled yet earnest girl seeking God’s will in her life. When she is at Bible college, she believes God has called her to church planting, and she is later hired by a church to do so.
Plot: 3/5 Average: The plot was a simple Christian story about a woman in the ministry. The events were those in most Janette Oke books. There were deaths and bad events that cause people to doubt God and questions about the Bible that are eventually resolved by Bible study or reasoning. Some of the things answered include if Jesus is God and why God may have someone dear to us die.
Writing Style and Setup: 2½/5 Slightly Below Average: Janette Oke had a good setup as she always concluded things she started and had them move at a good place. Sometimes it seems like she puts in details that are not interesting or are boring, but this is not something done all the time.
The only really disappointing thing was how some of the characters were shown. In the first half of the book, Emily breaks into tears or is on the verge of them at even the least emotional thing. She is childish almost. Halfway through it stops though. One thing that was also a problem was that a lot of characters in the beginning and some later were cliché or stereotypical. This included a lot of her classmates. There were also good characters that were more original, but even they were not really dynamic and unique.
Moral: 2/5 A Good and Bad Moral: There are two main morals in the book, one being good and the other bad. To be positive I will start with the good one. The book talks a lot about following God’s will for your life. Emily Evans does her best to follow God’s will and help the people that He leads to her. This is a good moral, as Emily is willing to do anything and stand up to all who mock or look down on her for doing what she believes is God’s calling. The bad moral of the book is what her calling supposedly is. Emily Evans believes God has called her to be a preacher and start a church. She does so, and knows at least two other girls that do the same, one that is supposed to be a godly role model. When her father questions her and remarks on what another man says, Emily wonders, “What right had Will Pearson to dictate the roll of women anyway?” She is right that man does not have the right to dictate women, but God does. II Corinthians says, “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but [they are commanded] to be under obedience, as also saith the law.” and I Timothy says, ‘But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” (I Timothy was written specifically on church behavior, not everywhere.) This does not mean women can not work in the church or work in the ministry alone, as there are many women I know and admire that do this, but a woman was not meant to have authority over a man in the church or preach. I was surprised Janette Oke was in support of this, as most of her books are more conservative than that.
Overall: 2½/5 Below Average: This was not one of Janette Oke’s better books. I was disappointed with the moral and some of the characters. I do not really recommend it for the moral, but the age that would enjoy it in quality would probably be girls twelve to thirteen and older.
Sexual and Inappropriate Content: ½/5 Slightly Suggestive: Boys and girls are described as being flirtatious. Emily is thankful she is modestly dressed when she sees that the children in town are spying on her after she wakes up.
Violence: 1/5 Mention Violence: A man in the book is known in town for beating his wife when drunk. She has bruises when Emily visits her.
Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name in Vain: 0/5 None
Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content: 2½/5 Some Mention and Emotional or Intense Content: An old man dies and Emily helps prepare the body for a funeral. A little boy gets sick and dies. Another man, whom is a drunkard, dies and it is known he never gets saved. The mother is emotional and temporarily hates God and church. A man is a drunkard and beats his wife. One of his sons runs away and the others are afraid of him and wait outside when he is drunk. Emily is outside their house once when this he is drunk. Blood is mentioned once.
Religious Issues: 4/5 A Controversial Theme: Emily Evans is a strong believer that God intended both men and women to preach and teach in the church. She has friends that become women preachers and she herself is a deaconess. People ask if she is a “preacher” and she does preach and run the church as a pastor would. Men are referred to as “Reverend,” and the religion it is based off of is Mennonite. Though a man questions if Jesus is God, it is decided that biblically He is.
Magic: ½/5 One Mention: A boy says his breath in the cold air looks like dragon smoke.
Others: A woman smokes and mentions having worked at a bar.
Overall: 3½/5 Almost Teenage Appropriate: As this is a Christian book there moral content of this level is mostly good. The main things that are morally wrong though are the way it promotes women preaching and running churches, so it is not really recommended.