I’m a biiiiig fan of novels. In fact, I’ve been known to reward myself with fiction after I’ve read some certain number of nonfiction books.

I used to think that made me something of a slacker. I mean, surely the great theologians don’t read fluffy stories before bed. Of course the scholars are always immersed in heavy work. There can’t possibly be a use for my favorite kind of reading…can there?

When I look to Jesus himself, though, I can’t help but wrinkle my brows again. He wasn’t exactly sharing Harry Potter with his followers, but you can’t help but notice how often he used stories, can you?

Sometimes, a story just does the job better.


Enter Do No Harm, by Fiorella de Maria (Ignatius Press, 2013). It covers topics I am praying about and pretty sick-to-my-stomach about, topics I don’t really know how to handle and things I don’t ever want to read about.

And yet I did. Because they are within the context of a story that gripped me from the beginning.

De Maria’s previous novel, Poor Banished Children was an example of literature, and it shocked me to read it. Not because of the topic (though that was sit-up-and-take-notice material too), but because it was so good, so well-done, so thorough and completely wonderful to read.

I was gripped by that story and even more by the clear characterization and vivid scenery. It could be used as an example for beginning authors of how flashbacks and memories can be used to move your story forward (as opposed to just being more muddle and fuddle).

Back to her current release, Do No Harm. The topic: the legal battleground that the emergency room can (and has?) become. The situation: a British doctor saves a patient’s life and is faced with criminal charges. The conclusion: oh, wait, I can’t tell you that!

The characters are flawless, the writing is beautiful (though not pandering or flowery). There are twists and turns, and I can say with no duplicity that I was shocked at the end. This book is top of its class. It’s not only fun and compelling to read, it’s a brain-turner that makes you think and consider.

Writing a book like this is no small feat. It’s one worth reading and pondering.