When Stephen Owens was 12 years old, his father was brutally murdered. Young Stephen was the one who found his father's body. As if finding the body and losing his father weren't enough, Stephen's mother was arrested and charged with her husband's murder. Turns out, Mrs. Owens was unhappy in her marriage and hired a hitman to kill her husband. She was sentenced to death.
For years, Stephen resented his mother and mourned the loss of his father. He and his brother were sent to live with their aunt, and as much as family members tried to stand in for their absent mother and father, Stephen still strongly missed having his parents and his family the way things used to be.
Because of Stephen's resentment toward his mother, he refused to speak with her or visit her in prison. It wasn't until years later after Stephen had married and welcomed his first child into the world that he decided to reach out to his mother. A Christmas card bridged the gap, and soon Stephen and his mother were communicating via letters. But Stephen wasn't ready to meet with his mother face to face nor was he ready to forgive her for what she did.
It would take several more years for Stephen to come to terms with what his mother did and find the grace to forgive her. Stephen struggles with his own emotions, with his past memories, and with understanding what forgiveness really means. But with the help of his family and his faith, Stephen is finally able to extend true forgiveness and welcome his mother back into his life.
I'm surprised that I haven't seen this story on Dateline or 48 Hours. The parts of the book that deal with the murder, police investigation, and trial are very interesting. But what's also interesting is reading about Stephen's struggle to forgive and how he turns to God to help him through this confusing ordeal. It's interesting to see how God helps Stephen, but ultimately, God gives Stephen free will to make his own decisions and in his own time. Even though it takes Stephen forever to "get there", God doesn't stop putting people, jobs, and other signs in Stephen's path to push him closer and closer to his mother.
Set Free is published by B&H Publishing Group and is available to purchase now. I received a free advance review copy at Book Expo America with no obligation to review the book.