Book Review: Bad Idea (May-Jun 2007)

By Matt Dabbs

by Patty Slack
May – June, 2007

Bad Idea—a novel (with coyotes)
By Todd and Jedd Hafer
(2006, Think Books, 311 pages, paperback)

Griffin Smith knows the road trip is a bad idea. He’d rather say his good-byes at the airport and fly to college. But his dad insists and, with best friend Cole along for the ride, how bad can it be?

Add Dad’s hot young fiancée, a reunion, a betrayal and an angry coyote and the answer is… much worse than he ever expected.

Griffin appears to have it all together. He graduated second in his class. He won an athletic scholarship for running. He attracts a group of loyal, honest friends and the devotion of his younger brother. But he is tormented, and his ability to hold in his darkest secrets is being tested.

As Griffin drives across the country, we get a ride inside his mind. Through a series of flashbacks and random thoughts we come to know who he really is. Griffin’s attitude reminds me of Holden Caulfield in Catcher in the Rye. Unlike Holden, though, Griffin sees the good in people of true faith and longs to attain their level of goodness. By twisting reality in his mind, he reasons himself through a bizarre maze to salvation, or a facsimile of it.

By giving us a view from inside a teen’s head, Todd and Jedd Hafer give us the opportunity to understand and empathize with not only a new generation, but a new culture. And they tell the story with an honest and authentic voice—no cardboard stereotypical teens in this story. These are true-to-life kids with adult-sized problems. Griffin’s thoughts seem to wander from one event to another. But they always circle back around to where he came from. Random musings turned into threads of despair that run through his life. An unrelated memory does relate.

Bad Idea lets us inside the heart of teen whose life was overturned by divorce. And what we find there is uncertainty, insecurity, and turmoil. If my own mother doesn’t love me enough to stay, Griffin reasons, I must be completely unlovable. Even God can’t love me, at least not the way I am.

Bad Idea steps outside the bounds of a novel you would expect from a Christian book publisher in a way that gives me hope for the future of Christian fiction. It’s smart and it doesn’t skirt the fact that Christians face real temptations and succumb to real sins that destroy themselves and those around them. New Wineskins

Patty SlackPatty Slack is a graduate of Harding University. She and her family spent 7 years as part of a church planting mission in Togo, West Africa. She currently resides in the Pacific Northwest where she home schools her 3 daughters.

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Profile photo of Matt DabbsThis author published 1577 posts in this site.
Matt is the preaching minister at the Auburn Church of Christ in Auburn, Alabama. He and Missy have been married 12 years and are raising two wonderful boys, Jonah and Elijah. Matt is passionate about reaching and discipling young adults, small groups, and teaching. Matt is currently the editor and co-owner of Wineskins.org.

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