Monday, August 9, 2010

Thoughts on "Riven"

As a college student, I seldom have time read much besides textbooks. This summer has been no different; I've been reading my New Testament Survey textbook and the press releases that come into the newspaper where I work.

Being sick changed some of that. I didn't quite have the energy to study a scholarly analysis of the background of Paul's letters, and so, on a Saturday afternoon when I was doped up on Benedryl, I raided the church library.

My curiosity had been piqued by Jerry Jenkins's book Riven. He describes it as a work of a lifetime, as "the novel I have always wanted to write." I had enjoyed reading one of his books on writing at the beginning this summer while recovering from my concussion, and wanted to read some of his fiction as well.

Riven was no disappointment. Jenkins wove a story with true-to-life characters and conflicts. I believed Thomas Carey's plight, the pastor who had been walked on by countless congregations, never seeing fruit in his ministry. Brady Wayne Darby's constant battles to escape the trailer park were all to no avail, and my heart broke for him.

Sometimes I was angry with the characters for not responding the way I thought they should, but always their motives made sense to me. It takes skillful writing to present characters who are believable even when their actions are illogical. Sometimes human behavior defies logic.

All this was accomplished with a beautiful writing style. Jenkins writes in a way that doesn't interfere with the story. I find it difficult to enjoy a poorly written story because I am constantly distracted by my annoyances with the style. It can be equally difficult to read writing that constantly draws attention to itself as phenomenal and complex. Jenkins has neither fault -- his writing tells a story, and it was only after reading a while that I noticed how beautifully he was doing it.

One final thought before I close: This book resonated with me deeply. A theme woven throughout the story is the long wait for the fruit of Kingdom labor. The story spans seventeen years, and when it opens, Thomas Carey is already worn with waiting. How willing am I to wait for God's redemption of a sinner? The beautiful ending would never have been possible without the painful wait, but it's never easy to see that in the meantime.

Well... I'm still not feeling the best, so I should probably sign off for the night and head for bed. (Or maybe I should stay sick... I seem to get a lot of worthwhile reading done that way...)

With love from an absolute doll,

Erin Joy

1 comment:

  1. You may NOT stay sick, Erin Joy!!!!