‘October Baby’

October Baby
Rachel Hendrix and Jason Burkey star in a scene from the movie “October Baby.” CNS photo/Samuel Goldwyn Films

Hannah Lawson (Rachel Hendrix) seems to be a typical 19-year-old college student with loving, albeit somewhat protective parents. But after collapsing during a school play and visiting the hospital, she learns the truth about her life — she was the survivor of a botched abortion, and the people whom she thought were her birth parents actually adopted her after she was abandoned by her birth mother. That is the premise of “October Baby,” which is to be released March 23.  

After making this life-altering discovery, Hannah embarks on a spring break trip with several fellow college students, including her childhood friend, Jason. The intended destination is New Orleans, but Hannah and Jason make a side trip to Mobile, Ala., where she was born and where her birth mother still lives.  

Some of the most moving moments in the film take place when Hannah finds the abortion clinic nurse, Mary, who took her mother to the hospital after the failed abortion. Mary tells Hannah the story of her birth, and reveals a secret that has been kept from Hannah her entire life. Played by Jasmine Guy (TV’s “A Different World”), Mary has clearly been haunted by her work at the clinic and by what she saw the day Hannah was born. 

“I didn’t see no tissue,” she says, referring to the term the clinic staff used for the babies being aborted. “I saw the face of a child.” 

Although Hannah and her parents are Baptist, a pivotal scene takes place in a Catholic cathedral. After being rejected by her birth mother and struggling with her feelings about her adoptive parents, Hannah goes to the cathedral to pray. There, she meets a priest, who encourages her to forgive the woman who conceived her, along with her parents. 

The movie is rated PG-13 for “mature thematic material,” and has a CNS rating of A-II for adults and adolescents. Hannah and Jason share a hotel room on their trip, but their relationship remains chaste, despite their obvious attraction to each other.  

Although the leads, including John Schneider (“The Dukes of Hazzard”) as Hannah’s father, are strong, “October Baby” suffers from stilted dialogue and some scenes that seem pointless and somewhat improbable. Somehow, Hannah finds herself on the wrong side of the law not once, but twice, for example. 

Still, the film has a strong pro-life message that families with older children would find uplifting.


‘True Icon’

True Icon
Ignatius Press

This Lent, as Christians prepare to mark the passion and death of Jesus Christ, a recently released book explores the history of the relic honored by many faithful as the burial cloth of Our Savior — the Shroud of Turin. 

German investigative journalist Paul Badde traces the journey of the shroud throughout the Holy Land and Europe, and looks at its connection to another image of Christ, the Veil of Manoppello, in “True Icon: From the Shroud of Turin to the Veil of Manoppello” (Ignatius Press, $22.95). 

In the illustrated book, Badde does not set out to prove the shroud is authentic. Rather, he writes, “I intend to pursue a reverse inquiry. Not the question of whether the shroud is genuine, but rather the question: What if it is?” 

That inquiry takes his readers to Jerusalem, Turkey, France and Italy as he traces the twists and turns of the shroud’s history.