The Wounded Spirit
Frank Peretti
Word, 198 pages, $18.99

Frank Peretti has written five macabre Christian best-selling novels and a slew of children's books. None of his work has been more personal than The Wounded Spirit. Part biography, part polemic, and part exhortation, his first work of nonfiction attempts to do nothing less than convince his now sizeable audience to create a less brutal world.

And he would know something about brutality. By all accounts, novelist Frank Peretti had a hellish childhood. Though his parents were loving Pentecostals, a glandular birth defect on his neck called cystic hygroma ensured that most of his early life would be nasty, brutish, and, but for decent medical attention, short. Born after his parents made a harrowing trip through an Alberta blizzard in 1951, Peretti was fortunate that the end of his father's ministry tossed the family to Seattle. The hapless Canadian doctors said the large lump on the side of the boy's throat would clear in "a matter of days."

Looking back at his parents' willingness to buy the doctors' assurances, a bemused Peretti allows, "Well, they were medical experts, weren't they?" Some experts. Within a month, the cyst had swelled to the size of a baseball. After diagnosing his condition, doctors from Children's Orthopedic Hospital in Seattle put the two-month-old under the knife. They hoped to prevent further swelling, hemorrhaging, and infection (or possible death through asphyxiation).

The doctors, having removed the cyst, could not foresee a complication that sounds like it came straight out of, well, a Frank Peretti novel. His tongue started to swell, and before long, "[I]t was hanging out of my mouth, oozing a fluid that turned to black scab when it contacted ...

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