Cover image for The touch
The touch
Hickman, Patricia.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Wheaton, Ill. : Tyndale House, [2002]

Physical Description:
178 pages : illustrations ; c 19 cm
Format :


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X Adult Fiction Central Library
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf

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While her father desperately searches for her, a troubled young wife and mother searches for the safety and spiritual transformation that can only be found in the healing touch of Christ. A modern-day parable inspired by the Ron DiCianni painting.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Sydney Oliver is on the run from an abusive husband, but shame and pride prevent her from reaching out to her father, a pastor in an upscale Florida community. Instead, she and her two small children land in a prostitute-filled motel in New Orleans. Meanwhile, her father, Wade Jenkins, searches desperately for her. Eventually humbled by circumstances beyond their control, Sydney and Wade find and forgive each other. Based on a contemporary painting by Ron Dicianni that depicts a young woman in jeans touching the hem of Christ, this is a flat interpretation of the New Testament story. Hackneyed devices such as Wade's being reduced to becoming a vagabond after he's mugged and a hooker with a heart of gold strain the plot. Beverly Bush Smith's Wings of a Dove is a more convincing exploration of a woman whose faith is tested by an abusive marriage. Purchase for comprehensive collections and where the author of Sandpebbles is in demand. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



IT NEVER SNOWED in New Orleans in winter. The sky filled with the same darkness found inside the deepest part of a cold, damp cave, and although occasionally the temperatures dropped low enough to warrant a token fire in the fireplace, the clouds over Louisiana seldom squeezed out a single flake of snow. The best description that Sydney Oliver could offer The Big Easy in winter was "plainly miserable." If it rained, it flooded, and the entire city became a concrete swamp. The dead were buried aboveground in cemetery vaults just to keep them in their place. Sydney stooped partially inside the cramped telephone booth to button the sweater on her five-year-old son, Trevor, who stood holding the hand of his little sister, Allie. The nearby shopping center bustled with the post-Thanksgiving, pre-Christmas shoppers, while a rusted speaker squeaked out store commercials between intermittent strains of "Silent Night." "Are we going home yet, Mommy?" Trevor asked. "Not yet, honey." Sydney kissed the top of his head. The soft, wet tendrils of his hair felt sticky against her lips. Then she turned and attempted to force the booth door closed. But it creaked open again as the blustery wind invaded their tiny shelter. "Are you calling Daddy?" Trevor persisted. Trevor's questions had not ceased since they had fled from their small rental apartment after breakfast. She deposited a handful of coins into the pay phone. "No, Trevor. We won't be calling Daddy for a while." She held her fingers over the dialing pad but hesitated. The gold band on her ring finger had lost its sheen. Her left hand curled into a fist as she placed her head against the wall of the phone booth. She couldn't crumple now, she told herself, and chastened herself for feeling weak. Trevor and Allie had to be her greatest concern. Once more she reached to dial the number she dreaded calling. But again she froze as she saw her own image in the silver chrome frame of the pay phone. I can't let Dad and Mother know about it. Shame swept through her, along with remorse. The battered area around her right eye had swollen and turned black. But her mind must have been in instinctive overdrive. Her fingers began to dial. Sydney Oliver rarely broke under the weight of defeat. Growing up in a pastor's home had long ago toughened her coping mechanisms, she felt. So when she relayed stories of her childhood, she admitted only those details that painted her in the most triumphal light. But as she reached to phone her father for the second time this morning, the very act conjured up the things that she hated most about herself. One remembrance in particular echoed from the stagnant wells of her past. Invoking the memory always made her feel like a six-year-old again-just as calling her father right now made her feel like a loser. She recalled the Sunday her father had been inducted as pastor of a church in Tennessee. It was a small, friendly congregation. But the congregational custom had required that her entire family stand up in front of the pulpit as the members passed by to greet each of them. Sydney had felt so small, so terrified. Her older brother, Lance, had stood next to her and soaked up all of the attention. But the ceremony of it all had caused a huge lump in her throat. Anxiety seethed inside of her and spilled out in the form of tears. She had felt ashamed. Seated in the front row with her mother and brother, Sydney had initially felt a complete sense of well-being as her father delivered the morning's message. No one had warned her that she would soon be asked to rise and approach the platform as one hundred and sixty onlookers examined her with their stares. When her father had called the family forward, she had remained in her seat, paralyzed by fear. Finally, after several verbal attempts to wedge her from her place, her father, Pastor Wade Jenkins, had stepped down and taken her by the hand. Normally the gesture would have comforted her. But on that anxious morning, she could not be consoled by normal means. At that moment, she had clutched the hem of his coat. She clung to it, desperate, feeling misunderstood by her entire family. She had remained with her fist tightly curled around her father's coattail until the last member had patted her head and passed her by. Once, she had gambled and glanced up at him. But then she had looked away, not wanting to read the disappointment in his face. Shamed later by her brother, Sydney had never forgotten the desperate feeling of that moment. But in no way could it compare with the desperation of this past hour. "Hello, thank you for calling Clearwater Freewill. How may I direct your call?" "Carol, please," she said. "May I ask who's calling?" Sydney's lips parted, but no sensible words emerged-nothing that would pass for normal conversation anyway. The wind now slammed hard drops of rain against the phone booth. Trevor tried to lead his sister in the Christmas chorus that blasted from the shopping center. "Hello? This is Carol. Anyone there?" "Carol, this is Sydney-" "Sydney, dear, how are you? We so enjoyed your visit last summer. And those children are so precious-" "Carol, I-" Sydney heard her own voice break, felt the next wave of tears tumble down her cheeks. Four-year-old Allie tugged at the loose denim around her knees. "Whatever is the matter, dear?" All Sydney could muster was a meager, "I need to talk to my dad." She heard the familiar click of Carol placing the line on hold, followed by the recorded message that told of the church's upcoming Christmas celebration. "Sing, Mommy. All is calm, all is bright ... " "Oh, Trevor, not now, honey." "Holy infaso tender and mild. Sleep in heavenly pe-eace, sleep in heavenly peace." Sydney's lashes lifted, and she saw a red economy car head toward them. It slowed. She dropped the phone in panic. A wet blast of wind whistled in through the partially open door, and Allie shrieked. "Trevor, take Mommy's hand. We need to run!" She scooped Allie into her arms and cradled the child's small, wind-chapped face against herself. "Run again, Mommy?" "Yes, baby," she said to her son. "Run fast, okay?" "No, Mommy. Pick me up, please?" Trevor's short, plump arms reached up toward her. His bottom lip quivered, and Sydney realized that he sensed her anxiety. She lifted him onto her other hip and braced herself to face the squall. Sydney staggered with them out into the hostile storm, three urban refugees trying to look invisible. The rain pelted against them, a swirling dance that mocked the trio. The dangling phone receiver buzzed with the voice that called out, unanswered. It sounded almost mechanical against the back-ground din of the holiday carol. Holy night, all is calm ... "Sydney, this is Daddy ... you there, sweetie? Sydney?" (Continues...) Excerpted from The Touch by Patricia Hickman Copyright © 2002 by Patricia Hickman Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.