Breaking Point by Jennie Hansen
Published by Covenant Communications, 240 pages
Reviewed by Michele Ashman Bell

I just finished reading Jennie Hansen’s newest release from Covenant Communications, Inc. Breaking Point, and the only experience I can compare it to is Thanksgiving Dinner. I’m full, I’m satisfied and I’m ready to take a nap (because I stayed up half the night reading).

Breaking Point is a wonderfully crafted book and sustains Jennie Hansen’s high standard of providing a worthwhile read with a story you hate to see come to an end.

From the first page, the tone is set and the intensity level is on high. The story begins with possibility of a dam breaking just inside the Utah-Wyoming border. A cast of characters who are enjoying Labor Day weekend in the canyon, are introduced, all potential victims if the dam does burst.

First, there’s Gage and Trent, two brothers and return missionaries, spending their last few days together before the youngest goes away to college. There are also two sisters, and a friend, Cassie, Emily and Diane, who are on their way to BYU but stop to spend the night camping.

Also in the canyon is a woman named Shalise and her son Kobie. She’s trying to put her life together after a messy divorce and as he usually does, her ex-husband has disappointed their son Kobie, by breaking a promise to take him camping. Being an avid outdoorsman herself, she takes her son up to the canyon, trying to make the outing fun for him, without showing her anger for her ex.

Then, there’s the family in the RV who went on a vacation that was doomed from the start. The father, Wade, is having an affair, and his wife, Chelsea, and their two children, Rachel and Bryan know that when they get home to Chicago, he’ll be filing for a divorce and leaving their family.

With the threat of the dam breaking, Web Bentley, a county sheriff, is sent to clear the canyon and help all the campers get to safety. But it’s just not meant to be. The dam can’t hold out any longer and breaks loose.

Gage and Trent are first to sense trouble and realize that the ground shaking and noise echoing through the canyon can only mean one thing . . . water. They race to warn the three girls they’d met earlier and a woman and her son who are camped nearby.
Sheriff Bentley manages to reach the family in their RV and convinces them to leave everything behind and follow him to higher ground.

Each moment counts as all of these characters help each other, strangers bonded by the need to survive. They all have one common goal, to reach safety. The intensity is supercharged with powerful emotions, wonderfully written visual imagery and a breathtaking pace. This fast paced action keeps you on the edge of your seat as you find yourself wondering how you would react in the situation and if you would survive.

The intertwining stories at first are a little difficult to keep up with, but as the story progresses and the characters develop, they quickly become individual personalities who are easy to care about.

It is when they reach safety but still wonder about their survival that each character’s true nature shows through. Strangers connect and become fast friends, while others begin to look inside for the strength to face the challenge. Still, others evaluate their personal lives and begin to see themselves and those around them in a different light. This, aside from the horrific event they are experiencing, is what gives this book heart and soul and we learn the important theme of this story taken from Matthew 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

Hansen is a master at weaving together intricate plot lines and providing a wonderful story line that shows the grittiness of life along with the calming strength gained from the gospel. These spiritual elements keep the challenges in focus as these characters are pushed to their physical and spiritual limits.

Their journey to survive is fraught with difficulties but working together, they survive and come out of the experience stronger, better, and more aware of themselves and their own personal faith and beliefs. At this point the reader could possibly feel as if the story is over since the ordeal is passed, but true to form, Jennie Hansen has more in store for the reader, much, much more.

Taking what they’ve learned with them, the group of people part ways, and in turn, we get to see the growth and change they’ve experienced, and how it has changed their lives and their futures.

The intensity and interest levels remains high as the plot follows twists and turns keeping the reader wondering what next to expect. And, just as in real life, the challenges are never ending but the ability to handle these challenges has increased greatly. The growth of these characters as individuals and as a whole makes the story more personal and meaningful.

It wasn’t for lack of looking, but I truly couldn’t find much about this story I didn’t like. Hansen’s writing is solid, her research is amazing, and her passion for what she does shines through every page. If I have any gripe, it would be that for the sake of the length of the book, all of the stories had to leap forward to a place of resolution, leaving us wishing we could have been able to read about the relationships that blossomed into love, marriage, others into conversion and even one that experienced the birth of a new baby. However, the endings are truly satisfying and brings the theme full circle as each of the characters discover within themselves and their lives that truly where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

This is one book I would highly recommend to the widest variety of readers; young, old, male, female, LDS and non-LDS. Well done, Sister Hansen, for yet another wonderful novel to uplift and entertain us.

2003 Meridian Magazine.  All Rights Reserved.