This is the first of what I hope will be a number of book reviews scattered throughout this blog. You will be able to find them all listed on the “Book Reviews” page accessible from the menu bar above. By way of disclaimer, I don’t read much fiction, I get the books for free in exchange for an honest review, and the views expressed here are solely my own. I’d love to have your responses and suggestions.
“Your heart will be moved,” promises the front-cover quote of Cruel Harvest, recently out from Thomas Nelson Publishers. That proved to be an understatement. My heart was catapulted through somersaults of terror, compassion, disgust, and admiration by Frances Grubb’s emotional memoir. It crackles with the pace of a best-selling thriller (I read it in a day and a half) but is more shocking for being true.
The author spent her early years as the terrorized slave-child of an alcoholic and abusive migrant worker, picking cotton by day and finding ways to escape her father’s rage by night. Think of this book as The Glass Castle meets Unbroken. (If you have not read either of those inspirational biographies, get to it!) Somehow, the author manages to communicate the worst of her experiences with an underlying sense of hope which makes them bearable – just.
I was surprised, though not altogether disappointed, to find no chapter explicitly explaining and spiritualizing Grubb’s difficult existence. Instead there is only a tantalizing taste of redemption through the chapter introductions which look ahead to her adult life and reunited family. In some ways, I wonder if she missed the opportunity to make faith real in the face of some very real horrors, but my hope is that there will be a sequel (there are hints of that possibility) describing her healing in more detail. I wanted to probe her old soul on topics like stolen innocence, the shedding of shame, the beauty of forgiveness and the redemptive power of the Gospel which are merely mentioned here.
My only specific criticism of the book is the inclusion of several bits of original poetry which interrupted the narrative without adding to it, qualitatively. (The poets among you may disagree with me.) This book is a quick, summer read which will leave you pondering deeper questions of good and evil. I think I will also be watching the grocery aisles, church picnics and loitering children everywhere for signs of hidden torment. Fran Grubb would probably want me to do that.
To read more about the book and author, visit www.cruelharvest.com.
To see this review on Amazon along with the author’s comments (wow!), click here.