by Austin Boyd

Zondervan, $14.99, 332 pages

As soon as I saw the title of Austin Boyd’s book Nobody’s Child, The Pandora Files, I wanted to read it. The thought of mysterious circumstance – the Pandora of ever-changing situations – was intriguing. Then, I opened the book. Disappointed? Not completely.

Boyd creates a strong female character who faces seemingly insurmountable circumstances. As Laura Ann’s father nears death, she makes radical decisions that will keep the family’s West Virginia farm operational. Boyd introduces the controversial practice of egg donation. Laura Ann believes it’s the only financial resource she has left. When Sophia McQuistion shows up on Laura Ann’s doorstep, her secret world may be exposed, jeopardizing the farm and her relationship with the love of her life, Ian.

Weighing in at 328 pages, Boyd tips literary scales with paragraph after paragraph of details; the minutiae becomes monotonous. While a sense of place is important, this story could be set in any locale and still make an impact. At times, the overkill harms the natural flow of storytelling. Nobody’s Child is the first installment in Boyd’s bioethics suspense series, and I’m interested in the others. The message never felt preachy until the courtroom scene. Then the attack on morality began. Why not let readers decide how they feel on their own instead of forcing them to believe what the characters, and perhaps the author, feel about this contentious topic?

LuAnn Schindler