This was a powerfully moving story by debut author Varina Denman. The story is based on church hurt and what can happen when the people of the church get in the way of God, pushing others away instead of drawing them into the fold. This book really made me think about how our actions, as Christians, speak louder than words and what far reaching consequences those actions can have.
Plot: As a child, Ruthie Turner and her mother attended church until her father left them. Then suddenly her best friend ignores her and the church folks look the other way. Ruthie and her mom are no longer welcome and Ruthie decides she wants nothing to do with them either. Thirteen years later, Ruthie’s working two jobs, at the grocery store and the high school. When new preacher Dodd Cunningham comes to town, Ruthie tries to stay away from him, but as he’s also the new math teacher, she can’t avoid him. Dodd doesn’t understand her animosity towards the church and Christians. Despite being warned by church elders to stay away from the Turners, Dodd can’t help being drawn to Ruthie.
The story is told through the first person POV of Ruthie and Dodd’s third person perspective, which I thought was really unique. I’ll admit, I don’t usually like reading books in the first person POV, but after I became engrossed in the story, I didn’t even notice anymore.
I could really sympathize with Ruthie, as she’s working hard at lower paying jobs and struggling to make ends meet. She’s never understood what happened in the past; she only know how she was abandoned and treated. I loved how the Cunningham family came along, without preconceived notions, and befriend the outcasts: Ruthie, her mother, and an ex-convict. They seemed to be the only ones that show the true Christian spirit.
This story was just full of great, realistic characters and several plots threads woven throughout. I wanted to know the stories of all the characters, not just Ruthie and Dodd. There were enough unanswered questions about the past to keep me wondering. The characters drew me in and kept me emotionally invested in their outcomes.
I’d highly recommend reading this book. Whether you’ve been hurt by the church or have seen others go through it, the message in this story is one we all should pay attention to. I really enjoyed spending time with Ruthie and Dodd and look forward to seeing what else this author has in store. I’m eagerly anticipating the next story.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Have you known church hurt or have you seen it happen to others? I’ve been so blessed to belong to a wonderful, loving church family, where I’ve been my whole life. I feel the love of these brothers and sisters and know, no matter what, they’d be there for me if ever I needed. I can’t even imagine going through what Ruthie and her mother did. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject.
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Thanks for reading!
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.