By Travis Thrasher
Published by Tyndale
400 Pages

ABOUT BOOK: God’s not dead . . . but they’re trying to kick him out of the public square!

Welcome back to Hope Springs . . . where Christian Grace Wesley teaches high school history. She is on the hot seat with the school district after she answers Brooke Thawley’s question about Jesus during a classroom discussion. Suddenly, Brooke becomes a pawn in an epic court case that could cost Grace the career she loves.

Tom Endler, a lawyer with the teachers’ union, is tapped to reluctantly represent Grace in her fight for her First Amendment rights. He finds himself fighting for a cause he doesn’t even believe in. Tom’s research leads him to Amy Ryan, a reporter and former skeptic who found faith while battling cancer and watching the classroom battle unfold at Hadleigh University a year ago,. Both are soon on a journey to understand what genuine faith really means as they fight to save Grace’s job and avoid a court decision that could cripple the free speech rights of all Christians in the marketplace.

Based on the movie sequel, this novel tells more about the story behind the new blockbuster film and gives fans an update on favorite characters from the original film.

REVIEW: I’d seen the first movie and thought it was powerful. I looked forward to seeing the sequel. I wanted to read the book before seeing this second movie for two reasons, one; there is always more information in the book and second I am a Travis Thrasher fan.

The sequel is set in the same town as last book, Hope Springs. This time the situation takes place in a high school. Grace Wesley is a twenty-eight-year-old teacher, taking care of her 80-year-old grandfather. She has taught in in Martin Luther King Jr. High School for six years, was voted best teacher of the year just last year.

It’s a surprise to everyone that Ms. Wesley finds herself in trouble with the school district because she won’t apologize to them for talking about Jesus in the classroom. Here’s a peek at what happened with her students the day in question. She tells her attorney, “…we were discussing Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and exploring the idea of peaceful nonviolence during class. With all the violence happening in our country today, I thought it made sense to talk about what Gandhi and Dr. King did…..then a young woman asked a question related to this.”

“About Jesus?” Her attorney said.

“Brooks asked if that was what Jesus meant when he said we should love our enemies. So, I said yes, that’s exactly what he meant.”

Attorney’s reply, “That’s exactly how you said it?”

“I agreed with her and then quoted scripture.”

“After that, a student tried to bait me – just to try to get me or the class riled up.”

Seems more than a few students got upset. The whole community and country are watching this event unfold. Protestors for both sides are out in full force. There is an explosion in the court room too.

The opposing attorney states in his opening comments, “Ms. Wesley refused to apologize to make things go away...” He goes one to tell the jury that her main objective in the situation is to turn an innocent question into an opportunity to “preach rather than teach.”

Grace’s attorney explains what’s really on trial here. The attorney says, “Are we now in the business of making people deny their faith?” “The opposition is using this teacher as a pawn to achieve their own agenda; which is to smash faith in the public square debate.”

The battle rages on every side and in the middle, there is Amy Ryan a blogger and reporter. She was battling cancer last year and had a perspective change. She embraced God whole heartily when she thought the end was near. Now she’s in remission and is not sure what she believes. She watches this battle closely. She starts her personal investigation into the existence of God by interviewing students at the High School. She will not be swayed by her near-death experience and all the emotion that came with that. She sought the truth, not emotions involved.

This novelization gives readers an overall view of the “separation of church and state” issue. I found it informative, interesting and liked how they showed this topic from very personal points of view. It will get you thinking about what’s really on trial here. Travis Thrasher makes this novelization work with this style of writing which clearly show the matter at hand in a thought-provoking way with a little touch of romance thrown in for good measure. It’s a win! win!
2014 I met cast members from First Film
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

Nora St. Laurent
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