Heather Morris’ depiction follows Slovakian Jew Lale Sokolov, who was imprisoned at Auschwitz in 1942, and shows how he fell in love with a girl he was tattooing at the concentration camp. Based on his true story, this novel takes the reader from three years of brutality before his eventual escape. Morris is discreet with the sexual evils many women had to endure just to survive, but the language is abundant throughout the story and the horrors of genocide are not white-washed for the reader, so I would label this book 18+. Although the setting and plot wrestle with the devastating depravity of history’s worst, the themes of perseverance, love and hope shine over the darkness and inspire the reader to remember that evil is real, but love can outlast it.
The Giver by Lois Lowry, written over 25 years ago, still resonates with our current culture, almost in an eerie way, showing what happens when a government decides what a person can and cannot do, taking away their right to choose. Several lines throughout the story made me pause and raise my eyebrows and whisper, “wow.” Well worth the read.
This short biography of Henry Martyn also demonstrates what great discipline and perseverance can accomplish with the might and undergirding of the Holy Spirit. Despite minimal support and poor health, Martyn pioneered the way for the Good News to reach those in parts of India and Persia that had not yet heard the Gospel. His life was one of constant struggle, loss, and early death (age 31), but he translated the New Testament into Urdu and Persian and also translated the Psalms into Persia. “Now let me burn out for God!” ~ Henry Martyn
I recognize that Joyce is a New York Times bestseller, but I got about 1/5 of the way through this book before I put it down, unmotivated to continue. Ironically, the theme is one of transformation and restoration, but the tone depressed me and each page felt like uninspired duty–kind of like Harold’s unplanned walk. Perhaps the story would have redeemed itself, and maybe you’ve read it and enjoyed it, but I didn’t.
I have read a handful of Lynn Austin books. Three I really enjoyed and the other half were just so-so. But if you want good, clean fiction, with a few little tidbits of romance and mystery, then Austin is for you. While We’re Far Apart tackles the complicated inner working of three vastly different characters, a middle-aged widower Jew, 12-year-old Esther, and insecure Penny Goodrich. Each character deals with the impact of WWII, the devastating loss of relationship, and the longing for something more. This novel didn’t disappoint. It wrestles through fears, dreams, and the messy and surprising elements of family.
Jeff Venderstelt discusses the deep deficiency most Christians have when it comes to speaking the right language in a way “foreigners” can understand. When we go to another country, we ignorantly get louder or slower in our speech as if volume or pace will make up for the wrong syntax. In order to have Gospel fluency, we have to first understand how the Gospel has changed us and how it can and should impact our community, both within the Church and outside it. How do we ask the right questions, listen to the heart of the unbeliever, and get them to the truth of our powerful message? Vanderstelt shares practical word pictures, insightful questions, and a Gospel narrative that stays truth to the Word of God while ministering personally to the hearer. I highly recommend this book.