One of the first e-books I ever received free in exchange for a review was Running Home by Lizzie Steel. It was so fantastic that over a year later I looked up Ms. Steel to recommend the book to a friend and discovered she has written a second book, A Life More Complicated. I bought it immediately, and then binge-read it every evening while my husband was out of town (“just one more chapter, just one more chapter, just one more chapter!”) I think it only took a few nights to finish. AMAZING. So, now I’ll tell you a bit about it.
A Life More Complicated follows Josh and Corina, alternating chapters about “him” and “her,” as their individual struggles coincide and tells the tale of their ultimate redemption. Here is the summary from Goodreads:
Order, routine, solitude; the three key elements of his peaceful, uncomplicated and safe existence.
Hopelessness, fear, domination; the three key elements to keeping her contained and captive.
Worlds collide in this story of grief, courage and discovery. Hope is a dangerous emotion and surely an impossibility for two people so far gone?
‘The noise, the smells, the bright lights were all deafening. Every part of him wanted to run, but for her he didn’t. For the most beautiful woman in the world he stood amidst his worst nightmare, knowing he would do it all over again if she needed him to.’
I don’t want to give too much away, but I’ll do my best to describe why I found the book so compelling. It truly is a raw, emotional story that tackles issues of grief, suicide, sex trafficking, and, ultimately, love, forgiveness, and recovery. So much of this speaks to me on a personal level. Josh’s struggles with anxiety are palpable and expertly conveyed; having struggled with anxiety myself, I understood his character and identified with how his love for others ultimately became his motivation to push beyond his comfort zone and face the anxieties head-on. Thankfully I can in no way relate to Corina’s struggle as a victim of sex trafficking, but I can relate to her inner struggle over whether her actions have the ability to make her unworthy of God’s love. Without making it central to the story but rather weaving it in naturally, Steel does a phenomenal job of conveying God’s unending mercy and Corina’s inherent worth by virtue of her humanity.
The specific characters aside, I also appreciate the power of fiction to convey uncomfortable truths about the world and Lizzie Steel’s A Life More Complicated has the potential to raise awareness about the global scourge of human trafficking. Once upon a time, I wanted to dedicate my professional life to fighting human trafficking and though that never happened, it’s an issue that represents such a profound injustice that it has always remained on my radar. While at the moment my life demands so much of me that my prayers are probably my most-effective means of contributing to anti-trafficking efforts, I do like to think that promoting A Life More Complicated can help at least a little bit by bringing the subject to light for readers in an emotional and touching way. Corina’s story makes the horrors so uncomfortably real that I think readers would be hard-pressed not to feel some connection to the issue after reading the book.
I cannot recommend a book more highly – A Life More Complicated earns 5 stars and a ringing endorsement! PLEASE – read it!
You can also check out Lizzie’s website here to see what she’s up to!