The Atonement Child

by Francine Rivers

Paperback, 1997



Call number



Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (1997), Edition: Updated, 384 pages

Original publication date



Dynah Carey knew where her life was headed. Engaged to a wonderful man, the daughter of doting parents, a faithful child of God--she has it all. Then the unthinkable happens: Dynah's perfect life is irrevocably changed by a rape that results in an unwanted pregnancy. Her family is torn apart and her seemingly rock-solid faith is pushed to the limits as she faces the most momentous choice of her life: to embrace or to end the life within her. This is ultimately a tale of three women, as Dynah's plight forces both her mother and her grandmother to confront the choices they made. Written with balance and compassion, The Atonement Child brings a new perspective to a widely debated topic.


Original language


Physical description

384 p.; 8.5 inches


084230052X / 9780842300520



User reviews

LibraryThing member empress8411
I'm inclined to read anything by Rivers. While I'm partial to her Redeeming Love and the Mark of the Lion Trilogy, I haven't been disappointed by any of her other work. This was not exception. Although I found The Atonement Child a bit clichéd, a bit happily-ever-after, and a bit preachy, overall,
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I enjoyed this work. Rivers tackled a controversial subject - rape, abortion and the church's response. I thought she did an excellent job writing about this, saying what she believes, but not doing so in an abrasive manner. Her characters, while a bit shallow, struggled with real issues - God's forgiveness, mercy, judgement and family. I thought the resolution was a bit predictable and clichéd and convenient, but it ended the way a book should
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LibraryThing member erickimberly
Some of my seminary-mates had to read this for Dr. Jones' ethics class. I read it for fun. I cried through it, saw different sides of the abortion issue. This is another one of Rivers' must reads!
LibraryThing member vnovak
A friend told me that this book changed her views on abortion. It is a pro-life book, but is also filled with compassion and love for those who have had abortions. Characters have doubts and struggles, and so seem more real than in other Christian fiction, but the characters sometimes too
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conveniently represent various positions on the issue.
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LibraryThing member ruthjoec
I read Francine Rivers' Atonement Child today. It is about a girl who is a freshman at a Christian College across the country from her childhood home. She is raped and conceives a child. Despite the fact that she is engaged to a future minister, a student at a Christian college and a child of
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Christians, everyone who is important to her either urges or accepts aborting the child. She however, can never bring herself to go through with the procedure and ends up bringing conversion to an abortionist and healing to her family.

I had mixed feelings about the book. I found it preachy, much more so than I have found most of her other Christian novels. I also found it predictable. On the other hand, I found it troubling, perhaps because I suspect there is truth there. All these God-loving people in her life were pushing her to have an abortion. Her college kicked her out, even though they knew she'd been raped, saying people would think she and her fiance had sinned, unless she was willing to publically state that she'd been raped. I have to wonder sometimes how many women end up in abortion clinics because of what they perceive as lack of support?
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LibraryThing member reeread
A powerful story that speaks to the heart.

Dyna Carey, student at New Life Christian College, is raped and falls pregnant. While a fiction story, the trauma and despair feels very real whether it be from the aftermath of rape, the realisation of pregnancy or the reaction to abortion. Francine Rivers
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has thoroughly researched the subject and woven a story that is sad, touching, painful, joyous and honours God who heals and restores and gives us immeasurable love and grace.
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LibraryThing member debissot
It was a struggle for me to get through this book. Once I started it I had to finish it, but I was very eager to see it end.

The general theme of the book was wonderful. It was most definitely a great book to promote pro-life. She approached the topic through many different viewpoints and really hit
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it home.

However, I found myself lost in many of the conversations between characters, especially those of Hannah and Doug. I was confused when angry words would start flying out of Hannah's mouth as I didn't think her thoughts represented the anger. The dialogue was a bit off throughout the book.

I was very thankful for a book full of clean content, but probably won't read another of Francine Rivers' because of the lack of connection I had with the content.
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LibraryThing member nancypantslady
The story and the topic it hits head on are compelling which is why I read this whole book in two sittings. I did want to find out how it ended (though I predicted it pretty well from the beginning.) However, the style is not my preference. Some of the descriptions are weak, repetitious and
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predictable. Some of the foreshadowing (especially with regards to the character, Ethan) is extremely predictable and caricatured (not that I deny such persons exist.) So, style-wise, I did not truly love the book. As to content, however, I thought she did a good job dealing with the issue. I don't particularly like how Joe, in the end, waits for the heroine to propose to him. For all his strength of character, this seemed to not really follow.
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LibraryThing member CoverLoverBookReview
Dynah is a young college student who has lived a somewhat sheltered life, until she is raped and finds herself pregnant.

I enjoyed this book. It deals with serious issues on rape, abortion, and forgiveness--among other things. It is an easy read that can be completed in one or two sittings.

I have
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read other Francine Rivers books that I liked better, but that doesn't mean this one wasn't enjoyable. I would have liked a little more suspense though, because the outcome is somewhat predictable.
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LibraryThing member jolerie
Finding beauty in a moment of tragedy.
LibraryThing member hobbitprincess
First, I am not sharing this review anywhere but here because I do not want a discussion string on abortion to start on Facebook or Twitter. I also am going to share parts of the plot, so let this be your spoiler alert warning. I will not recommend this book, no matter what your stand on abortion
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might be.
I have read a couple of other books by Rivers and found them to be good reads. I picked this one up, wondering how she was going to handle the topic of pregnancy caused by rape. I figured it would be anti-abortion, but I didn't expect this. The book is so poorly written and all the characters stereotypical and contrived. Anyone even remotely associated with abortion clinics are troubled and disturbed with such messed up lives, to the point that it becomes unbelievable. Next, we have multi-generational abortions taking place. The main character is Dynah. Her mother had an illegal abortion prior to marrying Dynah's father. Despite 27 years of marriage, the man cannot bring himself to forgive this poor woman for getting an abortion before he even entered the picture. Seriously?? Shouldn't there be a lesson there somewhere? I mean, Christ was forgiving! Then later we learn that Dynah's grandmother also had a medical abortion when she had TB, done to save her life. Fifty plus years later, she is still haunted and ashamed to the point that she feels she has totally humiliated herself when she tells her close group of friends. I guess the fact that she and the baby could have died doesn't enter into it. Of course both Dynah's mother and grandmother think that their abortions have led to all the problems in their lives and that Dynah is being punished for their sins. The book ends, of course, with Dynah having a perfect baby and falling in love with the perfect guy. I am sure she will live a perfect life too.
If I have offended anyone with this review, I apologize. I am not sharing my views on abortion at all. I think that on whatever side of the issue you stand, this book is just plain bad. It could have been written in a thought-provoking manner by being more realistic. This issue is not as cut and dried as Rivers makes it appear.
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LibraryThing member kykim
In The Atonement Child by Francine Rivers - the story follows a young college virgin who is raped and becomes pregnant. So many of her family and friends are wanting her to get an abortion but she is not so sure that is the thing to do.
LibraryThing member eeminxs
Right from the start, this book grabs at your heart and soul. It continually pulls and tugs you in all directions as you read about what the main character and her family has gone through. The author causes you to really think about sensitive topics...rape, abortion, and adoption...all the while
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using God's word, as well as both personal character history and what has happened in the past as tools to guide the reader. Yet, it doesn't come off as preachy or as though the characters are better than everyone just because they are Christian. Instead, the author makes sure to portray them just as flawed and struggling with issues as everyone.
I highly recommend this if you want a book that will challenge you and keep you guessing right up to the end.
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LibraryThing member sparkleandchico
I'm impressed that a popular Christian author would be bold enough to write about a subject like this. At the time that this book was published, she was already well-known and could have chosen to stick to less controversial topics to avoid offending the masses and losing her broad support base.
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The fact that she chose to write a novel tackling rape and abortion from a pro-life stance is admirable and demonstrates the prioritising of Christian values in her profession as a writer. One might assume that all Christian writers would do this, but sadly that is not the case as many have sacrificed and compromised to entertain or avoid being controversial. Indeed, those who don't like this book have focused on the overt pro-life stance and the fact that it is "overly preachy." But maybe that is what is needed in a day when Christian compromise is the norm and thorny issues are avoided.

The story itself is well told and believable. Dynah is heading for the American Christian dream--pretty, popular, doing well at school, prospective pastor boyfriend etc. All of this is shattered by rape when she is walking home alone one night. The resulting pregnancy exposes the hypocrisy of the mostly Christians around her who in their different ways begin pushing her towards having an abortion. After all, her circumstances are exceptional and surely God would understand.....

Dynah's dilemma opens up deep wounds in her own family as well as in the lives of those performing the abortions in the clinics. Although some of the dialogue and scenes were a little predictable, I liked that the author touched on the fact that abortion can effect every person involved for a very long time, some may never get over the trauma or physical consequences. I wasn't sure about the supposed link between abortion and increased chance of breast cancer but it wouldn't surprise me if it was proven one day.

The obvious message of the book is that every life is precious to God and created by Him in the womb, regardless the circumstance. That He can redeem any situation and bring peace to those that believe it is impossible. I liked that Rivers chose to focus on moving forward rather than dwelling on the act of rape itself or of the attempts to identify and bring the offender to justice. The book carries the pro-life message but shows how difficult it might be to take that stance when someone is seemingly alone with their life-changing decisions. However, Rivers makes it clear that the person doesn't have to be alone--God is always present and waiting for the cry of help from a repentant soul.

This book is not suitable for children and may disturb some sensitive readers. Although the rape itself is not detailed, some details of the abortion procedures are mentioned. There is no bad language and no graphic violence. I note that some readers felt that the psychological trauma of the rape itself had not been considered and that the story followed a kind-of predictable happy-ever-after pattern. I don't agree with this. The aftermath struggles that the main character faces are traumatic and make the important point that all of us need to learn to trust God completely. She struggles with guilt, shame and questions why God allowed the experience which shattered her perfect life....that is not unrealistic nor is it a cliche. If Rivers had introduced too much psychological trauma it would have made the book more graphic and would have changed the focus from God's plan of redemption to the crime, victim and criminal. The reality is that all of us are broken through sin--sin in our own lives and the sin of others against us--the focus needs always to be on God and the price that has already been paid by Jesus on the cross for our sin.

Although not perfect, I rate this highly and hope it will influence those considering abortions, those working in the clinics/hospitals, those providing funding for services and most importantly, those counseling people dealing with choices they have made in the past and the consequences of them.
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LibraryThing member EstherFilbrun
This was the perfect book to choose to read on a day I was sick! I was a little apprehensive about how much detail I would encounter in certain scenes, but in the end, that wasn’t really a problem, which I was grateful for. The one thing I didn’t expect from this story (but should have, I
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guess) was the way that choosing life versus the alternative was presented and the amount of tension around this issue that ensued from the discussions. I’ve never been in a position like the characters in this story found themselves in (and I’m grateful for it), and I’d like to think that I would choose life every time. But I appreciated the realistic way that Rivers allowed her characters to question and work through their beliefs.

The one thing I was hoping for from this story did come through—that there is hope after a terrible, traumatic experience. It can take a long time to heal sometimes, but the Lord is faithful, and I loved seeing that represented over and over through the story. This was an excellent read—highly recommended!
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LibraryThing member debs4jc
This issues based book was a bit too agenda focused for my taste. The issue is abortion and the characters are put through the mill as they encounter situations that make them consider this as an alternative. Mostly there is a college student who is raped and then dumped by her friends and almost
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by her family as they cannot deal with the stigma. But then we learn how the mom and grandmother both also dealt with the issue and even what lead the abortion doctor to his practice. It's all a bit much and at times the dialogue sounds like a series of arguments or talking points instead of real speech. As does the many ways the main issue is woven into the storyline.
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LibraryThing member Romonko
This book was loaned to me by a friend, and I felt that I should read it. It's taken me awhile, but I've finally gotten around to it. Obligation finished. I didn't hate the book, and I knew that it was a Christian book, so no surprises there, but It just got a bit too much for me by the end. I
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understand the story, and i think Ms. Rivers does a wonderful job of describing the consequences and the angst felt by victims of violent sexual assault. The characters were described very well, but it just got too maudlin and preachy for me. I have my own ideas about abortion, and will not share them on this book review. They are mine and personal to me alone. Is abortion right or wrong? I don't know, but I don't think it is simply a matter of yes or no answers. Circumstances and outside influences can change the answers. The individuals themselves each have different, and, what to them are compelling reasons, for making the decisions that they make. After reading this book, I think my eyes have been opened as to the daunting number of elements that must be considered when a decision like this is made. And whatever decision is made, that decision will forever be there for the rest of that person's life. This is a very well-written book, and a very heart wrenching one as well. I am glad that I took the time to read it. I knew there was a reason why this book has been calling to me from my shelf for all these years.
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