Just Benny by Alex Banwell is a marvellous contemporary Christian novel that spoke to my heart.
Every once in a while, a book comes along that just completely resonates with me. As soon as I began reading, I knew that this was one such book. Benny is special needs youngster who suffers with epilepsy that makes him violently sick afterwards. As such, he is a target for the bullies and has very few friends. Benny has a kind, empathetic heart. He connects with those who need love.
We see Benny’s struggle with daily life. We ‘feel’ his fear as the bully confronts him. Benny is a boy who has been smothered with his mother’s love. It is easy to understand why, but Benny needs to break free. He is capable of far more than he can imagine.
There is a wonderful bond with Benny’s older sister. She encourages him to step out into the world.
Benny has only a tentative relationship with his father who doesn’t understand him. As Benny grows, his father finds there are things they have in common and the bonds begin to grow.
Benny realizes he is not like other children – and he is quite correct. Benny is not like other children, Benny is special, but not in the way he thinks. Benny can connect with the very young and the not so young. He is one of life’s gentle souls. We all need a Benny in our lives.
Just Benny is a book about love. It is love for our fellow man and it is God’s love for us. Benny believes, wrongly, “You need to be good for God to love you, and Benny wasn’t.” Benny has self-worth issues, believing he is unlovable for God. Benny needs to learn that God loves him just the way he is. “We can only be who we are, and we shouldn’t want to be anything else.” In God’s eyes, we are enough just as we are.
Over the course of the book, we see Benny mature. He is a deep thinker. When he has something to say, it is often very wise.
We witness the nudges of God to share His love with others. We would be wise to obey as everything will happen in God’s perfect timing.
We see the love of God in action as the church youth group is accepting of Benny. This is in complete contrast to how his peers at school are. The youth group is a place where Benny can be himself and share his fears.
All the characters are well drawn, likable and realistic. Alex Banwell writes with a simplicity that echoes the character of Benny, and it is beautiful. She displays the talent of sharing the love of God through her words and her characters.
Just Benny is a beautiful book about love – for each other and for God, and His love for us.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” John 3:16.
I received a free copy from the author. A favourable review was not required. All opinions are my own.