Tuesday, January 22, 2008

[book review] A Song I Knew by Heart

I have been on a big reading kick lately. I figured blogging about what I was reading would give me something to write about- other than the scrumptious cheeks I get to smooch on every day, my Starbucks addiction and how I am a tub scrubbing maniac. It's all about diversity here, people.

Without further ado, here is book review #1...

A Song I Knew by Heart
By Brett Lott

The story is a familiar one, based on the story of Ruth from the bible. The tragic death of Ruth’s husband, Naomi’s son, is where this version picks up. The grief the women share creates a deep bond between them. Naomi, who lost her own husband 8 years before, is overwhelmed by the need to reclaim herself. Thinking she will find redemption and forgiveness by moving back “home”, she makes plans to return to where she grew up in South Carolina. Ruth has no family of her own and so binds herself to Naomi saying, “Where you go, I will go. Where you live, there will I also live”. Once in South Carolina Ruth finds a fresh start more quickly while Naomi struggles, as she runs from God and the forgiveness that has been given to her.

From page one I was moved by this book. More than just a story that is told, this is a story that is felt. Lott allows the reader to discover Naomi’s character as she is rediscovering herself. The themes of grief, forgiveness, redemption and grace are woven throughout every page. New beginnings and the love of family await the characters, and the reader, in the final chapters of this novel.

The story seems to move across the pages, however there were a few times I felt it was dragging a bit (Lott used Naomi’s memories to craft the present scene more clearly). In the end I realized it was all necessary to depict who Naomi had been/was becoming.

The only thing I was dissatisfied with is how Ruth’s story ends. In trying to stay true to the biblical plot line, I felt the modernized context didn’t work very well. Though a minor point in the grand scheme of the novel, it was enough to keep me from giving it 5 out of 5 stars.

I feel I should mention that though there are Christian themes running throughout, there are also a few very subtle se*ual references. Nothing graphic in nature, more along the lines of human nature. And certainly nothing that I felt embarrassed about reading.

That being said, if you are looking for a story that is deep with a heartwarming touch, I recommend this book whole heartedly.