Instead of “Book Review: The Messenger,” this post should perhaps be titled “Confessions of my [Semi-Embarrassing] Reading Habits.” This is not my usual sort of post, I realize, but I recently signed up to review books for Bethany House Publishers, a well-respected publisher of Christian fiction and other Christian titles, through their blogger review program. When I signed up, I got to choose the categories of books that I was interested in, and every so often I receive emails from the company when they have titles available for review. Then, if I want, I can request a book and they send a complementary copy to me, in exchange for a review. Since I love reading [I did go to library school, after all--though reading is not in the job description of any position I'm applying for... too bad!], I thought it would be fun. Recently I received and read my first book: The Messenger by Siri Mitchell.
Hannah Sunderland has never questioned her unwavering Quaker beliefs…until the Friends forbid her to visit her twin brother in jail. But when Jeremiah Jones, a Colonial spy, seeks her out to help rescue her brother and other Colonial soldiers, she’s forced to confront her beliefs—and her unexpected feelings for Jeremiah—head on. As lives hang in the balance, must Hannah choose between forsaking those she loves and abandoning the bedrock of her faith?
So, what did I think of the book? Rather than writing paragraph after paragraph of review, I want to do this bullet-point style. I think reviews are more effective that way and I hope Bethany House doesn’t mind! I tend not to read loooong reviews so I want to make this to the point.
These are my top five reasons why I loved this book, and hope you will too!
- I love Siri Mitchell’s writing. I’ve read several of her other books and really enjoy her style. I feel like she does a great job developing her characters, and I like how the perspective of the story changes chapter by chapter. Siri Mitchell is thorough, detail oriented, yet so elegant in regard to style and tone.
- Obviously this book is historical fiction. Revolutionary War era, to be exact. I don’t think I’ve read anything from this time period since reading Felicity’s stories in my American Girl doll youth. [Side note: I had Kirsten, and she is now retired. I am so sad! Did anyone else have a beloved American Girl doll?]. My favorite war period to read about is World War II [my favorite war? How nerdy does that sound?]. Since this is fiction, obviously the storylines are not precisely accurate with what really went on. However, Siri Mitchell’s attention to detail and references in the book really made me feel as if she had done a good job researching to make the book as historically accurate as possible. I feel like historical fiction has such potential to make history come alive, and this book is a fabulous example of that.
- I love how applicable the struggles faced by Hannah and Jeremiah as they work for the patriot cause–together and separately, with different motives that somehow mesh together so perfectly. I don’t want to say much else on that, for fear of giving away too many spoilers, but these struggles raise so many questions. This book has caused me to wonder how this applies to today–why we believe what we believe in this politically-charged era, not so much unlike colonial America? How do we let causes and positions impact the bedrock of our faith? This is a decision we all must make, both collectively and individually.
- My only complaint about the book [except for the fact that it ended... sigh...] was that I felt the first couple chapters were a little slow and a bit confusing, simply because there are so many characters and I wasn’t familiar with Quaker vocabulary.
- That being said… my favorite thing about the book was the romance. [Cue the cheesiness... and the semi-embarrassing confession.] When I read fiction for fun, I don’t want to have to think too hard and I want happy endings. End of story. This usually draws me to cheesy Christian romance novels, heart-wrenching World War II romances, or chicklit. Anyone else with me? The romance between Jeremiah and Hannah [no, this is not a spoiler--you couldn't possibly expect that the romance wouldn't be a focal point of the story, now could you?] is subtle, sweet, and at times–infuriatingly slow. However, that is real life. Subtle romance allows for the highly narrative, action-packed plot to shine.
I hope you love this book as much as I did. I thought Siri Mitchell’s The Messenger was simply captivating.
Okay, okay… the semi-embarrassing confession goes beyond not thinking hard and wanting happy endings. One of my college friends and I [who I had the pleasure of seeing over the weekend at another friend's wedding] have this running joke of texting each other lines from our latest cheesy Christian romance novel. For real.
One of the best was regarding a man with a prosthetic arm stroking the face of his lady friend. For the record, I have nothing against prosthetic arms [I know several people who have them, actually.] The tone of that story though was just classic cheese, that’s what got me.
But back to my friend [who shall remain nameless so I don't go blabbing her embarrassing secrets all across the internet]. We have big plans of one day writing a book of cheesy Christian short stories, holiday themed… as in, Arbor Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, etc. It’ll be a best seller, I tell ya… and maybe one day you’ll be writing a review of it on your blog! That’s the goal!
What are you reading lately?
Thanks to Bethany House for the chance to read this great book for free!