by Erin Roach
EDITOR’S NOTE: Jan. 16 is Sanctity of Human Life Sunday in the Southern Baptist Convention.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)—Stephanie McAllister’s breakup with Sonny Shamrock was so devastating that she never told him of her pregnancy. Instead, she aborted the baby.
Stephanie dropped out of church in the suburban town of Westhaven, Miss., and became a reporter on women’s affairs for a metropolitan newspaper.
A Scent of Jasmine, a novel, begins 14 years later, when health issues bring Stephanie, now 35, back to the clinic where her abortion was performed.
There she meets Libby Anderson, the 14-year-old adopted daughter of her former pastor. Libby is picketing against abortion at the clinic.
Stephanie is unmoved by Libby’s passion for the unborn but does promise to use her skills as a reporter to help Libby find her biological mother. Stephanie increasingly struggles with her pro-choice views as her love for Libby grows. But the search for Libby’s mother is complicated by a death in Westhaven—and as a funeral turns to chaos, Stephanie and the town are forever changed.
“Fiction is not preaching to somebody, so you’re writing a story that has to be believable and has to be compelling in its characters,” David Dockery, a Mississippi geologist and author of A Scent of Jasmine, said.
“It gave me the opportunity to portray Stephanie, who had aborted her child, as a character that people could associate with. She explains herself in the story in a way that you could understand her and kind of see her side,” Dockery, a member and Sunday School leader at Pocahontas near Jackson, told Baptist Press.
“Libby provided an alternate view. You can kind of have the debate within a story that is compelling, without feeling like you’re reading something you don’t want to read.”
Though he had written two novels on other subjects, Dockery’s thoughts on abortion led to a book he hopes will change hearts as part of the pro-life movement.
“As a writer, I try to think of how a reader will react when they have this reality. The story kind of writes itself (through) characters that mean something to you and you care about them,” Dockery said. “To have them go through a conversion experience on this issue, that can impact a reader. There are women in all kinds of situations like this, and a fictional story can help them sort this out.”
As for how a story like this might affect a woman who feels remorse about an abortion, Dockery said it is best to come to terms with such an act, as painful as that may be, in order to receive forgiveness as well as healing and encouragement from God.
The central theme of A Scent of Jasmine, he said, is that each unborn child is unique and children hold unlimited promise and hope for their families, their communities and the world.
“There will be a day to come in which we will see what was missed because a child was not here to make a difference,” he said.
Dockery told of a 14-year-old girl named Laney Frazier who read the book five times. Frazier’s mother works with Pro-Life Mississippi, and the girl has ministered outside of abortion clinics for years. She sings hymns while her mother counsels women to choose life for their unborn children.
“(The book) touched my life about abortions. It made you want to save the lives of these babies,” Frazier said. “Girls who are pregnant can pick up the book and see that there is hope. They should not feel condemned but should turn their life over to Christ.”
C. Ben Mitchell, professor of moral philosophy at Union University in Jackson, Tenn., recommended a list of five novels with a pro-life perspective:
• Children of Men by P.D. James
• The Thanatos Syndrome by Walker Percy
• Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
• Winterflight by Joseph Bayly
• Healing Noelle by Michael J. Huckabee
Other novels with a pro-life perspective include:
• False Positive, the third book in a series by William Cutrer and Sandra Glahn. Cutrer, a professor of Christian ministry at Southern Seminary and a medical doctor, said he and Glahn wrote from a Christian perspective on bioethical issues to present biblical truth within an enjoyable, believable storyline.
“My historical precedent would be the parables of Christ, where He told engaging stories, drawing His audience into the story, and placed the spiritual truth beside it,” Cutrer said.
False Positive is set in a crisis pregnancy center located across the street from an abortion clinic.
• A Perfect Persecution by James R. Lucas, published by B&H Publishing Group. The plot: An underground group seeks to rescue as many babies as possible at a time when the moral landscape is rapidly deteriorating and babies are being aborted because they do not meet certain criteria for “social contribution.”
Erin Roach is a staff writer for Baptist Press. A Scent of Jasmine by David Dockery is available from the publisher, OakTara, www.oaktara.com, and such outlets as amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.