"A solid inspirational tale about faith, love and parenting through the eyes of four fathers"
Reviewed by Patricia Woodside
Posted October 11, 2011
COURAGEOUS is a different kind of book. An ensemble tale,
it is the story of four fathers, told from their points of
view. These fathers are policemen, men who willingly risk
their lives each day for the safety and protection of
others. Yet, as daring and dangerous as their jobs might
be, they find their most challenging assignment just may be
the one at home: parenting.
As their children drift away from them and the values
they've attempted to teach, they are forced to examine
themselves and their faith, and to take action. When
tragedy strikes, they find they must work on their
relationships with God as much as their relationships with
Coupled with the book's release is a major motion picture of
the same name. Some readers will see the movie and be drawn
to the book; others will wonder whether reading the book is
necessary. I've not seen the movie, but I have read the
book. In this case, I'd recommend reading the book in
addition to whatever your viewing choice.
Why? Because the book, although sparse in narrative and
heavy on dialogue, is a guy writing about guys and
relationships. Not too many books are written in that vein
in this era. It's interesting to see the world of faith,
love and parenting through a guy's lens.
Also, this is above all a story about parenting. Although
directed at fathers, the message is one for all parents. It
got me to thinking, as a mother, about whether I'm a good or
"good enough" parent and what I would need to do to move
further along the spectrum toward good. The message to be
more deliberate and more immediate in our interactions with
our children is one all parents can appreciate.
The characterizations in COURAGEOUS both break type and are
stereotypical. The primary African-American character is
Nathan Hayes, one of the four officers and one whose
insights help pull the other characters together. The
primary Hispanic character, a secondary character, services
the lawn. But all of the stories are believable,
particularly for those who subscribe to faith in a God that
has real and unexpected involvement in their everyday lives.
COURAGEOUS is a solid, inspirational read.
From the creators of Fireproof comes an inspiring new story
about everyday heroes who long to be the kinds of dads that
make a lifelong impact on their children. As law
enforcement officers, Adam Mitchell, Nathan Hayes, and
their partners willingly stand up to the worst the world
can offer. Yet at the end of the day, they face a challenge
that none of them are truly prepared to tackle: fatherhood.
While they consistently give their best on the job, good
enough seems to be all they can muster as dads. But they’re
quickly discovering that their standard is missing the mark.
They know that God desires to turn the hearts of fathers to
their children, but their children are beginning to drift
farther and farther away from them. Will they be able to
find a way to serve and protect those who are most dear to
them? When tragedy hits home, these men are left wrestling
with their hopes, their fears, their faith, and their
fathering. Can a newfound urgency help these dads draw
closer to God . . . and to their children?
A royal-red Ford F-150 SuperCrew rolled through the
streets of Albany, Georgia. The pickup's driver brimmed
with optimism, so much that he couldn't possibly foresee
the battles about to hit his hometown.
Life here is going to be good, thirty-seven-year-old
Nathan Hayes told himself. After eight years in Atlan-ta,
Nathan had come home to Albany, three hours south, with his
wife and three children. New job. New house. New start.
Even a new truck.
Sleeves rolled up and windows rolled down, Na-than
enjoyed the south Georgia sunshine. He pulled into a
service station in west Albany, a remodeled version of the
very one he'd stopped at twenty years earlier after getting
his driver's license. He'd been nervous. Wasn't his part of
town—mostly white folks, and in those days he didn't
know many. But gas had been cheap and the drive beautiful.
Nathan allowed himself a long, lazy stretch. He in-
serted his credit card and pumped gas, humming contentedly.
Albany was the birthplace of Ray Charles, "Georgia on My
Mind," and some of the best home cookin' in the galaxy. One-
third white, two-thirds black, a quarter of the population
below the poverty level, Albany had survived several Flint
River floods and a history of racial tension. But with all
its beauties and flaws, Albany was home.
Nathan topped off his tank, got into his pickup, and
turned the key before he remembered the carnage. A half-
dozen big, clumsy june bugs had given their all to make an
impression on his windshield.
He got out and plunged a squeegee into a wash bucket
only to find it bone-dry.
As he searched for another bucket, Nathan noticed the
mix of people at the station: an overly cautious senior
citizen creeping his Buick onto Newton Road, a middle-aged
woman texting in the driver's seat, a guy in a do-rag
leaning against a spotless silver Denali.
Nathan left his truck running and door open; he turned
away only seconds—or so it seemed. When the door
slammed, he swung around as his truck pulled away from the
Adrenaline surged. He ran toward the driver's side while
his pickup squealed toward the street.
"Hey! Stop! No!" Nathan's skills from Dougherty High
football kicked in. He lunged, thrust his right arm through
the open window, and grabbed the steering wheel, running
next to the moving pickup.
"Stop the car!" Nathan yelled. "Stop the car!"
The carjacker, TJ, was twenty-eight years old and
tougher than boot leather—the undisputed leader of
the Gangster Nation, one of Albany's biggest gangs.
"What's wrong wichu, man?" TJ could bench-press 410 and
outweighed this dude by sixty pounds. He had no intention
of giving back this ride.
He accelerated onto the main road, but Nathan wouldn't
let go. TJ repeatedly smacked Nathan's face with a vicious
right jab, then pounded his fingers to break their
grip. "You gonna die, man; you gonna die."
Nathan's toes screamed at him, his Mizuno running shoes
no match for the asphalt. Occasionally his right foot found
the narrow running board for a little relief, only to lose
it again when his head took another blow. While one hand
gripped the wheel, Nathan clawed at the thief. The pickup
veered right and left. Leaning back to avoid the punches,
Nathan saw the oncoming traffic.
TJ saw too, and he angled into it, hoping the cars would
peel this fool off.
First a silver Toyota whizzed by, then a white Chevy;
each veered off to avoid the swerving truck. Nathan Hayes
dangled like a Hollywood stuntman.
"Let go, fool!"
Finally Nathan got a good toehold on the running board
and used every remaining ounce of strength to yank the
steering wheel. The truck lost control and careened off the
road. Nathan rolled onto gravel and rough grass.
TJ smashed into a tree, and the air bag exploded into
his face, leaving it red with blood. The gangbanger
stumbled out of the truck, dazed and bleeding, trying to
find his legs. TJ wanted some get-back on this dude who'd
dared to challenge him, but he could barely negotiate a few
steps without faltering.
The silver Denali from the gas station screeched to a
halt just a few feet from TJ. "Hurry up, man," the driver
yelled. "It ain't worth it, dawg. Get in. Let's go!"
TJ staggered into the Denali, which sped away.
Stunned, Nathan pulled himself toward his vehicle. His
face was red and scratched, his blue tattersall shirt
stained. His jeans were ripped, his right shoe torn open,
An auburn-haired woman dressed for the gym in black yoga
pants jumped out of the passenger side of a white Acadia.
She ran to Nathan. "Are you okay?"
Nathan ignored her, relentlessly crawling to his truck.
The driver of the SUV, a blonde, was giving their
location to the 911 operator.
"Sir," the auburn-haired woman said, "you need to stay
Nathan continued his crawl, disoriented but determined.
"Don't worry about the car!"
Still moving, Nathan said, "I'm not worried about the
He used the tire to pull himself up enough to open the
back door of the pickup. An ear-piercing cry erupted from a
car seat. The little boy let loose his pent-up shock at the
sight of his daddy on his knees, sweaty and bleeding.
Nathan reached in to comfort him.
As sirens approached, the auburn-haired woman watched
Nathan with his little boy in the tiny denim overalls. This
stranger wasn't blindly obsessed with a possession. He
He was a hero—a father who'd risked his life to
rescue his child.
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