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Book review: Milne's 'The One Good Thing' might just be the one best thing

By Sandra Nazar

For the Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, April 17 2013 5:40 p.m. MDT

"THE ONE GOOD THING," by Kevin Alan Milne, Hachette Book Group, $14.99, 384 pages (f)

“The One Good Thing” by Kevin Alan Milne is everything that a novel should be. It is uplifting, inspiring and entertaining. The story draws readers in from page one and holds them captive to the end. Through his characters, Milne gently touches on topics ranging from death, grief and redemption to family, friendship and service.

The main character, Nathan Steen is a thoughtful, generous man. Every day for the last 20 years he has carried six small stones in his pocket that remind him to perform selfless acts of kindness. As he performs service, he moves one of the stones to his other pocket. As the story begins, Nathan performs his ultimate act of service by sacrificing his life to help someone in need.

As Nathan’s wife Halley and his two children, Ty and Alice, struggle, overcome with their grief, they discover that Nathan has kept a secret from them. This secret threatens to destroy the reputation that he has established and the legacy that he has left behind. Even Halley begins to doubt that her husband was the man she believed him to be.

Thirteen-year-old Alice is the only one who refuses to doubt. Her faith in her father is resolute. She is bound and determined to find the truth and clear her father’s name. As she unravels the mystery surrounding her father’s secret, she discovers the origin of the six stones and the “one good thing.”

Like all of Milne’s novels, “The One Good Thing” is enjoyable, touching and thought-provoking. Where it departs from his previous works is in its perspective. It is told in first person present tense, from multiple perspectives. Each chapter tells the story from the viewpoint of a different character. The ability to view events unfolding through the eyes of each character paints a richer, broader picture for the reader.

While Milne touches on serious societal issues such as bullying, child abuse and teen pregnancy, he does so very gently. It contains no profanity or graphic descriptions of these issues.

In "The One Good Thing," Milne takes the reader on a wonderful journey that ends with the reader having been both educated and inspired. The main character Nathan Steen’s favorite saying was “one good thing leads to another.” He believed that he could make the world a better place one act of kindness at a time. Reading “The One Good Thing” inspires the reader to believe that Nathan was right.

Sandra Nazar lives, writes and blogs in Oklahoma with her husband and five children. She blogs at www.sincerelysandra.net

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