Books we have been reading recently...
The distant land of my father, by Bo Caldwell
The book is narrated by Anna, the only child of wealthy expatriate American parents who have a comfortable life in Shanghai before the Second World War. Anna’s father Joseph loved China and taught his young daughter about the culture and architecture of the Shanghai. He believed in taking risks and assumed his luck would hold out even when China was invaded by the Japanese.
When his wife and daughter had to return to America for their safety, he refused to return with them and eventually became a prisoner of war.
Anna grows up in Los Angeles, hoping with her mother that Joseph would return.
The story is one of love, forgiveness and understanding.
An American Marriage, by Tayari Jones
Roy Othaniel Hamilton is an African-American who grows up in the South. He is ambitious, clever and believes in the American dream. He marries Celestial who is an up and coming artists and their life together holds promise. But this dream is shattered when he is arrested and put in jail for 12 years for a crime he didn’t commit.
Celestial finds herself without her anchor and forms a closer alliance with Andre who was the best man at their wedding and their closest friend.
When Roy’s conviction is overturned after 5 years, he returns home to Atlanta expecting to resume his previous life. The three central characters are bound and separated by forces beyond their control. The story portrays the effects of wrongful arrest and its consequences on the victim and those close to them.
Unexpected Healing, by Jennifer Rees Larcombe
This book was written by a Christian woman whose ‘idyllic’ life was plagued by a terrible medical condition which changed her in every way, physically and mentally. It changed who she was as a person and virtually stripped her of her roles of wife and mother. Her caring husband had the impossible task of looking after her needs as well as those of their six children.
The book was written after she received God’s healing after much prayer and the book opens with the fact that she had been healed, so in a sense we read it knowing that this would happen at some point. Despite this it was quite a traumatic read, as we learned of the stages of deterioration she went through and the cost to those who loved her.
This book triggered much discussion about prayer and when it is answered and whether we get what we pray for. It made us think about the consequence of prayer being answered and healing being granted. It certainly got us thinking about how life can change very quickly and reinforced that we are ultimately not in control of our own lives.