To offset some depressing reading assignments from high school, my teen chose to read In His Steps by Charles Sheldon from our home bookshelves. It became so engrossing and uplifting a choice, that it was hard for my child to put it down to do homework.

Curious, I decided to revisit the book myself.  It had been decades since I last read In His Steps. Although authored by an American clergyman in the late 1800’s, the writing is very accessible to modern readers. With the exception of occasional references to horse drawn carriages and the absence of cell phones and computers, the novel could be a contemporary storyline.

Reverend Henry Maxwell, pastor of a wealthy, aristocratic, and dignified church, is inspired by a startling event to re-think his faith. After sharing with his congregation the upheaval in his soul, he asks members of his congregation to take a pledge with him for one year to live out the answer to this question: “What would Jesus do?”

Among those who make this vow are Rachel Winslow, a young woman expected to pursue a career in opera; Edward Norman, editor of a popular newspaper; Jasper Chase, a promising young author; Virginia Page, a young heiress; and President Marsh of Lincoln college. Their choices over the next year send shock waves through their personal lives, their community, and beyond. Some remain faithful to their pledge, even at great personal loss; others turn away and pursue paths of their own making.

There are two or three passages where the author becomes openly preachy, and his tone is certainly idealistic, but this does not take away from the amazing power of the story to make the reader rethink personal motives and actions in the light of a personal commitment to be like Jesus. Hailed as a Christian classic, it’s a book worth reading.

In His Steps is written for adults but has been embraced by generations of teenagers. It is readily available on Amazon, through Barnes & Noble and Christian Book Distributors, as wells as in local and church libraries.

Donna Fujimoto is a graduate of Alliance Theological Seminary. She has published both devotionals for adults and short stories for teens. Her children love to read.

Mrs. Fujimoto has a collection of short stories, 9 Slightly Strange Stories with an Uplifting Edge, available as an e-reader at Amazon. Find our review under “N” in the alphabetical listing: Titles We’ve Reviewed.

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