Christian Book Reviews, Author Interviews, Excerpts

Faith Takes Center Stage in Screen Play

  • Kelley Mathews Contributing Writer
  • Published Feb 24, 2010
Faith Takes Center Stage in <i>Screen Play</i>

  Chris Coppernoll
Title:  Screen Play
Publisher:  David C. Cook

Harper Gray aspires to more on her acting resume than the sleep-aid commercial from last year. Left floundering in Chicago after her last stage performance closed, she eagerly accepts the invisible role as understudy to a famous Broadway performer in an upcoming play. Settling in New York with her best friend and co-actress, Harper soon finds herself the star of a hit show that sets the critics on fire. Hollywood beckons, and Harper's dreams seem to be coming true.

But are they? For as much as Harper dreams of professional success, she also longs for that special relationship that might turn into "the one." Her crazy schedule on Broadway compels her, skeptical and reluctant, to look for love online. Her unlikely match shows promise, but can she sustain a real-life relationship with someone so far away—in distance and lifestyle? And when Hollywood makes her a movie star, will she be willing to sacrifice one dream for another?

Chris Coppernoll gives the reader a fun look inside the life of a theater cast and play. He allows realistic conflicts to arise, though he may downplay the viciousness that actors actually experience. Still, for a work of Christian fiction, the story offers an intriguing and entertaining glimpse into the worlds of Broadway and Hollywood.

The strength of this work is partly due to the highly developed characters. Readers observe hidden motivations, flawed reactions, emotional confrontations, and more from the major characters. Only Luke, Harper's online match, seems a bit under-developed.

In fact, Luke and the entire online dating plotline are my least favorite components to the story. Perhaps it's just my own skepticism coloring my perspective. Perhaps realizing that many readers would have similar doubts, the author addresses concerns about online dating through Harper's thought life. I wasn't the only one wondering if computers could really match compatible people.

Faith in Christ weaves a major theme throughout the story. Harper has a strong but subtle faith. She does not fear obeying what she feels is the voice of the Spirit whispering to her. Despite her very human struggles to trust in His provision, she is able to marvel at His faithfulness and be thankful for His continual presence in her life. I appreciated the message of hope the author communicated. Too often, Christian fiction seems to toss in spiritual truth as a side note instead of making it central to the plot and characters. Coppernoll succeeds in showing (not telling) how Christ's influence can redeem a person and her choices.

Coppernoll gives us Harper's voice—her outlook on her roller-coaster life and how her faith moves her to certain actions and decisions. What is most interesting about the point of view is that the author, a male, convincingly tells the story from a woman's perspective. I was able to identify with Harper's aspirations, hopes, struggles, and fears. It did not occur to me until the end of the book how skillfully a male author articulated the mind of the female character. Coppernoll's gamble paid off.

**This review first published on March 4, 2010.