What a Difference Love Makes is a short work of religious fiction reflecting on how those who feel lost in the world can find redemption and a path to heaven through love.
The book opens with a description of protagonist Jerry, 25, who grew up in a loveless family and strikes out on his own. After a horrific car accident, Jerry nearly loses his life, but is nursed back to health with the help of Jana, an RN.
Along with physical nurturing, Jana, whose father is a Baptist pastor, teaches Jerry about Jesus and how he can be saved if he believes in Him. After Jerry’s conversion, he sets out to make things right with his dysfunctional family, consisting of his mother, father, older brother, and a fragile younger sister, who suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome and shaken baby syndrome and later dies. Over time, he convinces the others to move to San Antonio, where he now lives, and inspires them to find love and to be saved through a connection with God.
Leatherwood’s simple, heartfelt novel is written through the omniscient point of view. It moves fairly quickly through the tragic scenes that befall its characters, offering minimal details. The pages instead dwell on the importance of love, and the book is replete with Biblical verses and stories meant to inspire the characters.
While the message of love and God comes through clearly, the book’s minimally descriptive details of what should be visually dramatic scenes makes it difficult to accept the major life changes the characters are said to have experienced. We are expected to believe, for example, that Jerry quickly and easily converts his entire family simply by going to the trouble of locating them after years of no contact. Such issues greatly hamper the story’s effectiveness.
Nonetheless, Leatherwood’s novel may inspire believers and could offer a spark of encouragement to those struggling to find their way in life.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.