Hand on the Bridle acquaints us with Gavin, a teenager
in 19th-century Scotland. He lives in the country with his widowed
mother and two sisters, but when he begins to be a bit unruly,
his mother sends him to stay with his older brother, Jim, a pastor
in a town some ways off. He has never really cared for his older
brother, but his mother insists, and so he goes, but with a chip
on his shoulder.
While staying at the Manse with Jim, Gavin meets the teenage neighbor
children, who also attend his school but don't really have anything
to do with church. They are being raised by their grandmother who
vacillates between doting on them and ignoring them. Their influence
on Gavin is not completely positive, and Gavin is constantly in
tension with his brother, who is doing his best to keep Gavin on
the straight and narrow. Nevertheless, the friendship continues
and becomes part of the redemptive journey of all of the children.
Jim has a picture in his study of a horse being held by the bridle.
He explains to Gavin one day that the picture reminds him of his
need for a steadying hand in his own life as he walks the journey
that Christ has for him. Gavin is not convinced. He believes himself
to be self-sufficient and not in need of anyone's guidance.
Over time and through trial, Gavin begins to see that he too has
a need in his life for a steadying Hand and begins to make some
changes in his life. This brings some persecution from the boys
at school, who are accustomed to his old ways. The bullying reaches
a point that nearly costs Gavin his life. Gavin is rescued from
his peril by a man with a secret of his own. Some time later, the
neighbor teens' grandmother dies, and the secret of the mysterious
man comes out, resulting in a fabulously happy ending.
This story, richly written like all Lamplighter books and with
positive morals and Biblical lessons to teach, illustrates the
fact that coming of age in any century has its trials and pitfalls.
It also illustrates that Christ and His redemption are always the
same. Teens and pre-teens will enjoy the story of Gavin and his
family and friends, and they will gain warning from his life and
understanding from his journey, if they choose to accept it.