At the height of the Vietnam War in 1971, Jake Abrams is desperate to leave his oppressive home in Colorado and begin a new life in college in LA, but his dreams are waylaid when he meets Leah, an antiwar protester who pushes him into marriage and family. Jake tries to juggle school, his job, and raising four children, but Leah turns to drugs and drinking, and finally runs off with her rock band, leaving Jake reeling.
When he falls for Rachel and marries her, his children rebel. And when Joseph, their love child is born, Jake makes the same fatal mistake his own father did–he shows favoritism to this divinely gifted boy who has the power of healing. After Rachel dies in childbirth, bringing Ben into the world, Jake turns his back on God and buried himself in denial. His children are wild weeds, and as they grow, the older sons’ resentment of Joseph’s gifts fester until they can take it no longer. The family hides a dark secret of murder, which Joey threatens to spill out of righteous indignation and fear of God, and the only way to stop him is to kill him. The intend harm for him, but God has other plans for Joseph, and in a divinely orchestrated twist, years later Joseph confronts his brothers, who do not recognize him. True to the Bible story this is patterned after, Joseph is reunited with his estranged brothers, and Jake finally welcomes his long-lost son back into his arms, which brings closure and healing to his hurting family.
Written in a contemporary flash-fiction style, Intended for Harm covers forty years, each chapter a year, with a theme from a hit song for that year. Each scene is a fifteen-minute snapshot of the Abrams family, a “photo album” of Jake’s life of wandering “through the wilderness” and coming home to faith at the end of his life. Anyone familiar with the Bible will recognize many similarities to the famous story of Jacob and his son Joseph. At the heart of this story is an exploration of fathers and sons, of loyalty and betrayal. And mostly, how we often intend harm to others because of wounds we carry in our souls, often without our knowing.
It has been years since I have read this type of book however once I started reading, I couldn’t stop. It was a very modern take on an old bible story with a message about love, forgiveness and faith which needs to be told and retold. I will definitely be checking out the author’s other work.