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One Baby Rose
SoulCake Press, 2006
Reviewed by Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur
"One Baby Rose' is the debut novel by Jim Bello, a Catholic from Tennessee deeply involved in the right-to-life movement at both the local and national level. "One Baby Rose" could certainly be called a "right-to-life" novel as it explores the issues of both abortion and euthanasia, but it is much more than that. It is also a well-crafted tale complete with romance and suspense. It is a page-turner that will make you eager to find out what happens next.
Nikki is a flower-shop owner whose life is going nowhere. Her business is suffering due to the big box competition that has moved nearby. Her gift of creativity has left her. She spends her nights out drinking with her best friend, having casual sex, and waking in the morning to regrets and a hangover. When Damien, a returned Catholic with a past of his own, walks into her shop and places a $1000 order for 500 days of a single baby rose, she really doesn't know what to make of him. As Nikki finds herself facing an unplanned pregnancy for the second time in her life, she is eager to push Damien away but something keeps him coming back. Meanwhile "Big Mike" faces caring for his comatose wife against what seem to be insurmountable odds.
The characters Bello has created are real. Like all of us, they are a mixture of good and evil, pure and impure motives. They struggle with their spirituality and their faith as we all do when faced with difficult circumstances. Decision-making is often not black and white. While Damien does have a few moments of being preachy, one gets the sense that is part of who he is. He has found his way back to the straight and narrow after walking on the darker side and he is eager to have others do the same. Ultimately, however, even he is forced to confront his own ulterior motives.
"One Baby Rose" is valuable both as a story and for the questions it raises. It would make for wonderful reading for a high school or college ethics course. It would also spur a lively debate in a book club setting. It should be recommended by every pro-life organization in this country.
Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur is editor of The Spiritual Woman Newsletter (http://www.spiritualwoman.net) and the corresponding blog http://firstname.lastname@example.org