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Book Review: "Redeeming Love" by Francine Rivers

Every now and then, I realize I have not . . . gasp . . . read a particular author.

Well, maybe not so now and then. After all, I have yet to read Debbie Macomber or Diana Gabaldon. (But the former IS on my bookcase now!)

And I have never read Francine Rivers either. So, when a second copy of Redeeming Love showed up on the shelves of the local Goodwill (I passed the first up some weeks before), I grabbed it.

I will say, up front, that it is always a bit daunting doing a book review on someone famous. But, even so, I am a reader, and I do have my opinions. So there.

California’s gold country, 1850. A time when men sold their souls for a bag of gold and women sold their bodies for a place to sleep. Angel expects nothing from men but betrayal. Sold into prostitution as a child, she survives by keeping her hatred alive. And what she hates most are the men who use her, leaving her empty and dead inside. Then she meets Michael Hosea. A man who seeks his Father’s heart in everything, Michael Hosea obeys God’s call to marry Angel and to love her unconditionally. Slowly, day by day, he defies Angel’s every bitter expectation until, despite her resistance her frozen heart begins to thaw. But with her unexpected softening come overwhelming feelings of unworthiness and fear. And so Angel runs. Back to the darkness, away from her husband’s pursuing love, terrified of the truth she can no longer deny: Her final healing must come from the One who loves her even more than Michael Hosea does…the One who will never let her go. A life-changing story of God’s unconditional, redemptive, all-consuming love.

This could not have been an easy book to write. The child, Sarah, by the time the prologue is over and the book opens, has become a tortured woman with no hope of a different future than the miserable life she now lives. Rivers masterfully brings Sarah/Angel painfully through a reawakening that is, at times, torturous. And from that, she manages to fashion a new Sarah/Angel that embodies both the innocence of the child and the heart of the woman she was meant to be. I especially like that, while Michael Hosea was a big part of her early transformation, Rivers allowed Sarah/Angel to find the last best part of herself, and her faith in God, on her own.

Michael Hosea's faithfulness and love for both his faith and Sarah/Angel, whom he calls Amanda, is heart-breaking. At times, both seem to let him down and break him more than anything else. He plods onward, determined to follow God's will and to honor Amanda, even if he cannot see a future with her that is anything more than pain and agony despite his great love for both.

Now, for my dislikes.

Rivers headhops like crazy. I had to stop several times to figure out whose head I had jumped into, and then she invariably, after only a sentence or two, jumped back to the previous person's point of view or to yet another person for a sentence or two. Obviously, with over two million copies sold, and readers loving the book worldwide, I am in the minority here. But as an author who works diligently to avoid headhops and to find other ways to get important character reactions across to readers, I found headhopping by anyone, famous or not, to be distracting at best. Lazy at worst.

I also did not like a particular aspect of the ending scene. I felt it was unnecessary, although there may have been some symbolism I just totally missed. If you have read the book, you may well know what scene I am speaking of. If not, you will likely know when you get there.

Again, those are my two personal foibles, and they in no way detract from the book which is obviously well-loved by so many people. If you have not read it, and if you enjoy Biblical retellings, this is one not to miss!

You can find Francine Rivers' website here.

You can purchase Redeeming Love on Amazon here.

To watch a trailer of Redeeming Love go here.

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