Bailey Craig vowed never to set foot in Yancey, Alaska, again. She has a past, and a reputation – and Yancey’s a town that doesn’t forget.

If you haven’t read Dani Pettrey’s book Submerged you should. It’s a page-turning, heart-racing read. And as thrilling and fast-paced as it is, it takes the time to fully explore the main characters’ inner conflicts and faith journey.

When you read Submerged you are instantly sympathetic to Bailey. She made many mistakes as a partying teenager, but after she moved away from Yancey she turned her life around…or rather God turned her around…and as a respectable professor, Dr. Bailey Craig wants nothing to do with her past. Unfortunately a close family member’s death makes a trip to Yancey necessary and Bailey must face a reputation that she’d rather forget.

Reading this book reminded me of the Apostle Paul’s experience. Paul was notorious for persecuting the Christian church. He worked to obtain letters authorizing him to arrest any Christ-followers he could find, but on the road to Damascus he had a divine encounter that immediately changed him. No longer was he hunting Christians, he was one. He had changed, but people weren’t accepting of his transformation. He had ridiculed them. He had persecuted them. He’d done violence against at least one of their leaders. It was a hard resume to live down.

Bailey is in the same boat. Although she didn’t kill anyone, there are many who want to remind her of her failures. Many looked down on her in her youth and don’t want to acknowledge the changes she’s made. Dani does an excellent job setting up Bailey’s dilemma and taking us through her struggle as she deals with the pain of belated judgment.

The best books are those that cause you to reflect on your own experience. Good fiction reveals to us flaws and conflict in our own world, and although Submerged is first and foremost a suspense, it produced some conviction in my heart, as well.

How many times have I protested when people tried to change? It’s so easy to tease someone who’s made a new resolution. People are easy targets when they start a diet, try to stop smoking, or decide to live on a budget. If we’re so quick to make observations on small steps like this, it’s no wonder that many people don’t have the courage to completely reject the chains that once bound them. What’s the use of being free when everyone wants to treat you as a prisoner?

So bravo, Dani, on a fantastically entertaining book, but even more I appreciate the message at the heart of Submerged. While we are busy forgetting those things which are behind us we might also consider forgetting the things behind others as well.

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