|Photo courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography, Free Digital Photos|
The story begins when Nora Stoddard, head of the National Commission on Children in Washington, visits a Sunday school class in a Bible-preaching church. Nora takes notes and later meets some of the families. She is friendly, complimentary of their children, and asks if she can make home visits to two families. They say yes, and she visits.
A short time later, these families risk having their children taken from them. The accusations? Spanking, homeschooling, and indoctrination in hate. (“Hate” because the children are taught there’s only one Way to heaven, through Jesus Christ. “Hate” because they’re taught that other religions are false.)
The families are devastated. A young lawyer with some experience in Washington takes the case. Cooper Stone is a handsome, intelligent, and hardworking young man, a partner in his small law firm.
The rest of the novel is about the opposition, which includes a very attractive Ambassador to the U.N. who tries to compromise Cooper, a budding and difficult love story between the Sunday school teacher and Cooper, and the court case itself.
I enjoyed the book, mostly because of the main plot. I personally don’t go for the romance. Although Mr. Farris didn’t overdo it, it still was a bit simplistic and goofy. The love triangle was somewhat childish in places with jealousies and lack of trust. Another problem I had was in the legal case itself. I enjoy legal novels usually, but I found this one overly detailed and plodding. Since I’m not a lawyer, I had a hard time reading through it all, blow by blow, “States Parties” by “States Parties,” followed by numbered Articles. The last tenth of the book is only this, and frankly, I skimmed it and read only the interesting points of law—of which there were a few. The novel is over before this section.
Forbid Them Not was, though, interesting. I believe we need to be informed and careful. What do we allow? May government people observe our Sunday schools? Will we let them question our children? Do we open our homes to them? These are all valid questions, and unfortunately, we may need to make these decisions sooner than we would like.
My personal opinion is that Mr. Farris should stick to writing non-fiction, although maybe this novel accomplishes his purpose.