Friday, June 7, 2013

Book Review: Goodness and Mercy by Patti Hill

It's 1943 and sixteen year old Lucy Richter is desperate to keep what is left of her family together.  Her eight year old twin siblings Goody and Mercy were taken to the orphanage after their parents left and now Goody is going to be adopted out.  She kidnaps the twins and flees to the dubious shelter of an aunt she's never met.

That's the slow start to a story that really picks up when the siblings get to their aunt in Colorado.  Patti Hill is a deft writer who handles a multi-first person viewpoint story with skill.  Letters from Aunt Ava from 1994, letters from a soldier in the Pacific, and 1943 scenes from Lucy and Mercy.  She tackles issues of doubt and faith, love, family . . . and God's goodness and mercy.  His hesed, in the Hebrew.  It's the word that gets translated loving-kindness, mercy, faithfulness and covenant faithfulness in English.  It's all of these and more--a concept that English just doesn't have a big enough word for.  It's that God's plans and healing are bigger than we can imagine, that our small unfaithfulness-es are as loose bracken to be washed away in the river of his love and forgivenss.

Too much Christian fiction is far too small.  Too-small people with too-small problems (and too-big angst over them) that they manage to bring to a too-small God, who can make things shiny and happy.  Patti Hill gives us a world where good and evil are tangled together in a complicated mess.  Good intentions, selfish intentions, faith and doubt, guilt and righteousness speckled through the same characters.  She gives us real people--all of them with their own pain.  And she gives us a God big enough--and personal enough--to see and hold and speak to each and every one of them.  Four stars.

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