A few months ago, I signed up at BookSneeze to receive a free book in exchange for an honest review, posted on my blog and at a consumer website like Amazon.com. So long as I read and review within the required time frame, I can continue to receive free books. I love to read, I don’t mind giving my opinion, and I adore free, so it sounded like a great deal to me!
Anyone who has a personal, public blog to which they post at least once a week and a minimum of 30 followers can apply to BookSneeze. Be aware, however, that “BookSneeze is a blogger review program owned and operated by HarperCollins Christian Publishing.” I missed the Christian part when I joined. This is not a genre I generally read, because the couple of Christian novels I’ve read in the past have been quite preachy, which interferes with the escapism I am looking for when I pick up a book. Nevertheless, I made a commitment which I intended to honor, so I tentatively cracked the cover of The Merciful Scar.
I’m not proud of how long it took me to get through my first book–simply a reflection on how many other things have been going on around here, and NOT the quality of the novel. I finished the story on Saturday, while babysitting pumpkins in the rain, and loved every page of it. Here’s my official review:
The Merciful Scar by Rebecca St. James & Nancy Rue
For Kirsten, cutting is a physical outlet for the emotional pain that seethes beneath her skin. When a meddling boyfriend and a slip of the blade lead to an especially serious injury, Kirsten finds herself in the psychiatric ward. She knows she does not belong there—she is certain that she is not suicidal, but unsure how to convince others and unable to promise she will stop the self-injury—so on the suggestion of her pastor, Kirsten chooses a former Anglican nun’s 30-day residential program at a Montana ranch. There, she finds the time, space, and support she needs to examine her painful past and reach towards a more hopeful future.
I generally steer clear of Christian fiction because the preachiness of the author’s tone often overwhelms any pleasure I would get from the story itself; therefore this is the first work I’ve read by Rebecca St. James or Nancy Rue. I have to say, this novel was a refreshing change from what I expected—though God, prayer, and spirituality were cornerstones of the storyline, I never felt like the authors were forcing their religious views on me. The characters were extremely well-developed and believable; neither their dialogue nor their interactions ever felt contrived. I was immediately drawn into their stories, and felt personally invested in the progress of their self-discovery and healing throughout the book, laughing and crying right along with them. The pacing of the action was just right—the authors revealed just enough detail at the right time to answer some of my questions, but concealed enough to keep me turning the pages. I would have liked an epilogue—I really wanted to know if the characters were able to apply what they’d learned, maintain their well-being, and perhaps even help others through future stresses.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com® book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.