I’ve often found that the best way to learn about a topic is to read a novel about it. Reading allows me to “walk a mile in another’s shoes.” I can’t imagine either living in the foster care system or being homeless. Those are the topics tackled by debut novelist Chrissy Dennis in The Lion Cubs. Her story made me more sympathetic about teens living in foster care in the States, and the choices they make.
This post contains affiliate links.
Fifteen-year-old Lexi is done with foster care and group homes. After two years of living in the system, she’s learned that it’s safest not to feel anything. When she hears about the Tunnels in Jacksonville, Florida, she leaves the foster home behind for a life on her own. As she makes new friends and adjusts to life in the Tunnels, however, Lexi encounters a whole new set of problems.
Thirty-six-year-old Liz is a successful, over-worked emergency room doctor in Jacksonville. She’s also a childless widow who hasn’t completely dealt with the loss of her husband two years earlier, despite her mother’s and best friend’s attempts to gently nudge her into moving on. When Liz catches sight of Lexi on the streets, something about the girl’s face stays in Liz’s mind. She finds herself thinking about Lexi, praying for her, and wondering what else she can do to help the girl. Slowly, God brings these two women together in remarkable ways…
The Lion Cubs by Chrissy M. Dennis is a gripping, thought-provoking story about two women who are dealing with grief and pain and need each other to help them overcome that. Chrissy writes with an incredible insight into character, as well as intense detail about the Tunnels and what life is like for the children living there. I found myself crying in a couple places in this novel, and I don’t cry very often over books anymore.
The Lion Cubs was the 2011 fiction winner of the Word Alive Press Free Publishing Contest. Word Alive Press and Inscribe Christian Writer’s Fellowship have had a long relationship together. Word Alive has often sent representatives to the ICWF Fall Conference and many Inscribers have been published through Word Alive (and speak highly of them). So I was very excited for the opportunity to read and review the winner of last year’s contest, and I was quite impressed with Chrissy’s debut novel.
That’s not to say there weren’t a couple things I didn’t like about The Lion Cubs. The story is told from alternating third-person points of view (clearly indicated by Liz or Lexi’s name at the start of each chapter). In between a few chapters, we are given snippets from Liz’s journal that repeated information we’d gotten in the scenes before and seemed unnecessary. I also found the last chapter, a sort of epilogue that neatly wrapped up the story by giving a quick summary of what happened next, too neat. Instead of being told how Liz and Lexi’s relationship developed, I wanted to see it (like I did in the scene on the last two pages).
The Lion Cubs was provided for review courtesy of Word Alive Press and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.