Unlike many who have read Alex Adena's novella SIGNS & WONDERS, I was extremely dissatisfied with the book. Reading the brief book description before purchase, I thought it could be a good cautionary tale about blindly following faith healers, which in itself is a good lesson in spiritual discernment. However, the book ends up being about the chief protagonist, Miss Annie's, crisis of faith in blindly following her errant father's means of bilking the ministry's blind followers simply because that was how she was raised. Again, that's also not a bad lesson to learn.
However, my complaint with the book is that the author seems to be writing from preconceived notions, personal prejudices, and religious ignorance rather than attempting to convey a thought-provoking work that has substance or meaning for anyone with true crisis of faith. Chances are very good that the bulk of the faith healing ministries were BEGAN with right intent. However, along the way, with the growth, glitz and glamour, the minister starts losing focus and gets hooked by the greed and the money. So I have a hard time accepting the premise that Miss Annie's father started out with a ministry business plan to bilk and deceive. Nevertheless, I could have accepted that part of the story, if the remainder of the story had retained any authenticity. But it didn't. Adena didn't bother to research Branch Davidian and Catholic themes enough to have a story with accuracy (see Amazon Review titled NOT TOO BAD for detailed examples). He also had Miss Annie embrace almost every single Christian taboo i.e., drinking, sexual promiscuity, greed, deception, lack of modesty, etc. without absolutely no remorse or sin consciousness--which is not remotely believable for even the most apathetic of Christians. This once again demonstrates that the author didn't bother to understand the heart and mind of a Christian either. So why's he writing about religious and spiritual issues he has an uninformed grasp of in the first place?!?
The book then ends with Miss Annie experiencing a change of consciousness and seeing the error of her ways (so far so good), starting to use her healing gift anonymously for good (okay...still with you), and becoming personally accountable by admitting her guilt and serving her prison time (ve-ry good). Yet on her way to turning herself in to the authorities, Annie performs what can only be presumed to be a personal baptism of sorts ...in a lake along the side the highway ...naked as a blue jay ...with her faithful, embarrassed male employee on shore with a rope to haul her back out of the water. (Huh?!?) The storyline went over the top ludicrous for me at that moment, and there was no further hope of redemption for the book in my eyes.
At the end of it all, I was simply left terribly confused and annoyed. No where in the book is the reader made privy to a true inner struggle with issues of faith and Christianity. It was only AFTER I finished the book and found an author's note somewhere that implied Miss Annie leaves Christianity as well as the healing ministry--thereby throwing out the proverbial baby with the bath water--that I finally understood the story's ending and why it sounded new age spiritual from beginning to end and totally void of any real connection with Christian beliefs.