I absolutely adore reading - my love for books has had a huge impact on my life! I'm going to grad school to be a children's/YA librarian.
Casting the First Stone is the poignant story of a mother fighting for custody of her daughter after the absentee father suddenly reappears, and of the teenage daughter torn between her parents. Tension escalates when others get involved -- overbearing grandparents pushing their own agenda, a worried stepmother hoping to do the right thing, and a caring youth pastor who believes in the power of prayer. A touching tale of love, loss, and redemption. (source)
I really enjoyed reading this book! It's not one that I would ordinarily have picked up - I don't usually read Christian literature (not that I dislike it; it's just not usually what I seek out to read) and I find it hard to relate to books about custody battles, as my parents have a great marriage and, at this point in my life, I do not have any children. But when my former guidance counselor asked me to review this for her, I was super excited about it, and I'm even more excited now because I can honestly say that I liked it!
I think my favorite part of the book was the characters. Obviously, custody battles are incredibly difficult for everyone involved. Hess did a great job of showing that in most cases, there are no bad guys - just parents trying to do what's best for their kids, but sometimes, the tension makes it difficult to keep that in mind. I really liked being able to see both Marita and Angel's points of view. Marita's tough and fiesty, and she definitely has a chip on her shoulder. She thinks everyone's out to get her, understandably so, as she's had a hard time as a single mother. Her relationship with her parents actually reminded me a lot of Gilmore Girls, which was totally fine with me since I love that show. Marita views her daughter's stepmother, Angel, as a prissy young girl who bows her husband's every whim - and, because of the shifting POVs, we get to see that this is definitely not the case. Though Angel is young and is very dedicated to being a good Christian, she has plenty of challenges of her own - including her husband. Jim was the only main character in the book who I did not like at ALL. He does sort of turn himself around by the end, but for the majority of the book, he's a bully. I felt so bad for Angel for having to deal with him all the time. I would NOT have her patience if I were in the same situation!
I did feel that there were some details that were kind of superfluous, such as Marita's date with Gregory and her relationship with Lukas, which was never really finalized by the end of the book. They weren't bad, they just seemed like extra details that weren't really necessary to the book. Lukas' role was more significant than Gregory's, as it showed Marita's efforts to try to demonstrate her ability to be a good parent as well as her change of heart toward religion, but I still wish that her relationship with Lukas had been defined by the end of the book, since it was included. Without there being a more significant purpose to it and a more definite conclusion, it came across as filler information.(show spoiler)
I really enjoyed this book and I think that it's a good one for parents to read, and not only parents who may be having custody problems. Again, since I'm not a parent myself I couldn't always relate to everything that was going on, but I felt that this book did a good job of portraying the disagreements that many parents have and showing, in the end, good ways of coming to a compromise.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author to review, but in no way did this influence my review.