HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Anonymous Tip
Author: Michael Farris
Publisher: B and H Pub. Group, 1996
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Teens and adults
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Farris, Michael. Anonymous Tip (published in 1996 by Broadman and Holman Publishers, Nashville, TN). The Child Abuse Hotline in Spokane, WA, receives an anonymous tip that a four year old girl named Casey Landis is being beaten with a stick by her mother. The informant is Gordon Landis, Casey’s father and Gwen’s ex-husband, and the charge is false. However, two investigators from Child Protective Services, Donna Corliss and Rita Coballo, with the help of two policemen, force their way into Gwen’s home with no warrant and strip search Casey, finding no evidence of abuse. However, during the questioning, Gwen admits to spanking Casey occasionally with a wooden spoon, and believing that all “hitting” is a form of abuse, the social workers later claim, at the instigation of their supervisor Gerald Blackburn, to have detected “faint” bruises on Casey in order to file charges against Gwen and alter their initial report in the computer records to reflect that.
The initial result of the hearing is that Casey is temporarily removed from Gwen’s custody. After an unfortunate incident with a lecherous lawyer unknowingly suggested by her father, Gwen finds a struggling young attorney named Peter Barron, who is a born again believer, to take her case. Will she regain custody of Casey? How can the underhanded activities of Corliss, Coballo, and Blackburn be proven? And what can be done to make sure that innocent people in similar cases are not wrongfully accused? Warning: some people do NOT like this book. One wrote, “This book denigrates the many hard working people out there trying to stop child abuse.” Another said, “This book is just a giant scare tactic to convince Christian parents that CPS is dangerous and will do whatever they can to remove your children.” Still another claimed, “Apparently, Micheal [sic] Farris, an advocate of home schooling, really believes that everyone is out there to get him.” While recognizing that there are undoubtedly many good, honest people in children’s services who are truly working to help children, I am personally acquainted with families whose lives have been tragically damaged by false charges from over zealous social workers who self-righteously believe that anything which they do “for the good of the children” must be all right, no matter how unreasonable it may seem to everyone else. For those families, this book rings true in spite of those who call it exaggerated, inaccurate, biased, hysteria, and too far-fetched.
Author Michael Farris is a legend in the homeschooling community. He is co-founder and chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association, former President of Patrick Henry College, and current CEO of Alliance Defending Freedom. Anonymous Tip is an interesting, well-written book with a great story about courts, lawyers, and legal matters. I had trouble putting it down. One might assume that the novel was pieced together from true cases on which Farris has worked. The reader will learn something about the legal process involved in getting a case appealed to the United States Supreme Court. Also, it has a little murder mystery and a touch of romance. And it is firmly based on a Biblical worldview. While it presents the different opinions held in the evangelical community when it comes to marrying divorced persons, I appreciate the way Peter sticks to his guns on the issue of unscriptural divorce and remarriage despite his emotions. Two other novels by Michael Farris are Guilt by Association and Forbid Them Not.