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Monday, April 06, 2009

The Road Home

I read The Road Home along with my church book club. We have a group of ladies at our church who get together to read one book a month for the first half of the year (Jan-June). Once summer vacation rolls around everyone becomes a bit busier traveling around and after that we're hit by a slew of holidays so we take the first half of the year to read a little together. Mostly, it's just an excuse to socialize. I like it this way! Everyone is reading and everyone is learning about each other at the same time and that's the biggest blessing of this particular club.

The author of this book, Tommy Tenney, also wrote the book that was turned into the movie, One Night With the King. I never read the book but I did see the movie. It's not a favorite but I didn't really hate it either. It just didn't do very much for me. Given my experience with One Night With the King I wasn't sure what I would think of The Road Home which is a retelling of the story of Ruth. I'm still not quite sure what to say about the book.

On the whole, I don't think I really go for the books that retell scriptures. It just feels a bit disjarring to some extent and I'm not really sure what makes that so for me. Many of my friends just love them. Again, I don't really dislike it. It's just not my thing.

The first half of The Road Home, in which Tenney is describing Naomi and Ruth's past histories, is depressing. But since that is also his point, this is a job well done. Really that's the bottom line: if I were ever to enjoy a retelling, this book would have to be the one. I thought Tenney did a really good job paralleling the true story with this fictionalized and modern reply of the life of Ruth. Several times he was just spot on and he really makes Ruth feel like someone you can identify with. I have no complaints as to his writing style or how he handled a modernized Ruth. It made sense and I don't have any wild objections to it.

Still, it's hard for me to get my mind around modernized scripture. I'm not really a fan of The Message translation unless someone who is reading scripture just really isn't getting the point. The Message, to me, is for times when you need to be blatantly obvious. (I have no great moral objections to The Message Translation of the Bible. I just think it's somewhat overly simplified requiring less effort by the reader which is something of a drawback to me.) Maybe I think of The Road Home in the same way. It's a simplification, of sorts, for our modern brain to be able to grasp and make sense of. Still others might argue that is brings scripture to life, delighting the imagination and awakening discernment. It could do that too.

The Road Home is a compelling story of a life and past redeemed. It is the story of a young woman's journey to freedom and safety in Christ. It is a moving drama and it is well-told. It was not the type of story that I'm necessarily used to or fond of as a general rule, but as a special exception I have no qualms with it. It was interesting.

Yeah, can you tell I'm really neither here nor there with it? It is what it is, I am what I am, you'll either like it or not depending on how well you tolerate modern retellings of Bible stories. If you like them, you'll like this book. If you don't, well, then skip it. I can't see how this book is harmful at all because Tenney does a good job distinguishing between darkness and light, truth and sin, and makes you glad for Ruth's redemption. I've no complaints.

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As a post script - our bookclub met this past Saturday to discuss this book - after I had written up the review you've seen above. I love meeting with our group because it affords us the opportunity to view the book in a different light and with varying perspectives. One of the best discussions we had surrounding this book was on building genuine, blessed relationships - focusing primarily on mother-in-law/daughter-in-law ones, of course. That is not an easy topic but it was fascinating to hear how other people have approached such relationships. I learned a lot and so I'm viewing this book in a more positive light than before. I don't really love it or anything but I appreciate where it led. And sometimes where a book leads can be more exciting than the book itself.

4 comments:

Ronnica said...

I don't like books that leave me on the fence like that. Either rile me up because it's bad, or make me fall in love with it because it's good, but book, don't leave me on the fence!

Leslie said...

I loved the book version of "One Night with the King". The movie - not so much. I found it hugely disappointing considering how good the book was. So don't write off this book just because the movie wasn't good. It really was a great read.

Melissa @ Breath of Life said...

I have this book on my TBR list. I didn't know she wrote One Night with the King. I haven't seen that movie yet, either.

Brittanie said...

I started this one but put it down. I was irrated by the plot of older lady looking back at life for the current generation.

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