Alana Terry’s Unplanned, the first volume in the Kennedy Stern series, opens with with the busy college student accepting a volunteer position at a new pregnancy center. From the start, Terry’s book establishes itself as a firmly Christian novel, with protagonist Kennedy a clear advocate for pro-life values. The main character prays and reflects on her beliefs in a natural, believable way.
Eventually, Kennedy receives a disturbing phone call from a young girl via the center’s emergency hotline, and while the information she learns is disturbing, the call ends before she can fully apprehend the situation. What follows is the college student’s investigation to learn more about the mystery behind the call, leading her into a world of suspense and intrigue that forces both her and the reader to more deeply examine the pro-life/pro-choice argument.
One of the strongest aspects of the book that Christian book review critics point out is how naturally Terry works Christian values into the story. The message is firmly pro-life, but the author does an excellent job of delving into the well-meaning but flawed reasons secular thinkers gravitate towards the pro-choice position. It accurately displays the struggles that face some expectant mothers, and in that regard is a valuable spiritual tool for Christian readers. It simultaneously engenders sympathy from pro-life Christians for the other side, while also reaffirming their own beliefs.
Unplanned, it should be noted, does not shy away from difficult subject matter. While it is a Christian novel, the book is definitely not meant for younger members of the faith. Mature teens and adults, particularly Christian women, will likely find much to resonate with in the novel. Kennedy Stern is a very likable character, and her walk with God is one readers can easily connect with. Kennedy’s compassion is admirable, and serves as strong inspiration for Christians who struggle with humility and compassion in their own lives.
Unfortunately, the book feels a bit rushed in parts. Some Christian book review sources noted a few unrealistic or implausable scenarios, such as a kidnapping that takes place later in the story. Furthermore, the book suffer from numerous typos throughout. It’s a shame, because the strong story would greatly benefit from more thorough proofreading.
All critiques aside, most reviewers agree that Unplanned succeeds as both an entertaining story and an honest tool for discussion on the issue of abortion. The novel stands firm on its Christian values, but approaches the other side with the compassion and empathy the Bible teaches Christians to employ when confronted with people and situations that challenge their beliefs. The story has a lot to offer, and is a powerful examination of the pro-life/pro-choice debate.
Overall, Unplanned is a thought-provoking read with:
A suspenseful, interesting plot
A powerful message about compassion
Promotion of pro-life stance and other Christian values
That said, the book’s strengths are somewhat hampered by
Poor editing and proofreading
Subject matter that may be too dark for some readers
Challenging material that somewhat distracts from the entertainment value