The movie “Courageous” is one movie I love. I can pull it out and watch it over and over.

Why? It deals with two of my favorite topics. God and cops.

But one of the things I like about a novelization is you can take liberties with it, which you can’t with the film. While the book still covers the highlights of the film, we get into the personal lives of the characters more. We see into their lives, hopes, and dreams more than the film could show. This is background where you get to see how the movie ends up where it does.

Here’s an instance. There’s a young deputy named David Thomson. We learn from the film he had a child who he pretty much walked away from. Turns out he had a father who walked away from him. That wasn’t spelled out in the movie. Backstory is important since it gives your characters depth.

Another central character is Nathan Hayes. Nathan didn’t have a father (like David’s, his also ran out on him). What he did have was a mentor. In this case, an older man took him under his wing and taught him what he needed to know about life and how to be both a good father and a good man.

Also, since I’m a fan of the Kendrick brothers’ films, we get to see some characters from other movies. An example was Caleb Holt and his wife from the movie “Fireproof.” I liked the movie, and I liked the characters. Well, since both films took place in the same community, it only makes sense that he and the deputies in the story would cross paths. I know in my own community I knew all the fire fighters and EMTs by name. So it was rather cool when they showed up in the movie, as well as characters from other movies. It was like catching up with someone you hadn’t seen in a while.

Another plus was we got to see new people who weren’t in the movie. One of the patrol sergeants by the name of Branson. He’s so tough he’s make a platoon of Force Recon Marines look like sissies. He has a poor opinion of just about everyone, including other cops, firefighters, human beings (you get the point).

He also has a low opinion of Diana Koos, a former TV reporter who now is working as PIO (Public Information Officer) for the Sheriff’s Office. His opinion of her reaches an all time low when she recommends he go to “sensitivity” training. He sees her as the problem with the world (too liberal) and she sees him in the same light. Their opinions begin to change when they see each other differently and become friends.

The book has tons of good messages (what else could you expect), but the core message is aimed at fathers. The question it asks of fathers is this, “Is being a good father enough? Why not try to be the best!” The book reminds us that our children aren’t ours forever. It’s our job to help them become good people and to protect them and equip them for the world. And the only way we can do that is to be there in their lives.

And oh, it’s got more than a few of a cop’s worst nightmares. It shows well the day to day lives of the police officers and the impact the job has on them and their families.

Like the movie, I expect to pull the book out again and again.