Jacob’s struggle to balance rigid principles with unyielding love is one that most Christian readers can appreciate, but the...

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WORKING IT OUT

In Greiner’s debut novel, a Christian man must determine how to appropriately take a controversial stand concerning homosexuality.

Jacob Greene is in a tight spot. The company he works for, One World, recently issued a new policy stating their intent to specifically market products toward the homosexual community. As a Christian, Jacob objects to his company condoning a behavior he believes to be morally wrong. If he voices his objections, however, he risks losing his job, which he simply cannot afford to do. In his distress, he connects with other Christian employees at One World who share his concerns. Surprisingly, though, he fails to recognize how the unloving attitudes shared by his new “friends” stand at complete odds with his desire to convey Christ’s love—even though many readers will likely notice this fact almost immediately. The group’s words and attitudes soon extend so far past the point of standard, albeit sometimes uncomfortable, rhetoric and into the realm of blatant wickedness that one could feel tempted to suspect Greiner of occasionally flirting with hyperbole. In Jacob’s defense, though, he lacks experience in thinking through controversial issues, which could account for the limit of his sensitivity. Once he begins to seriously and spiritually seek out the right course of action, he stumbles onto it. As a direct result of an unexpected friendship, he also learns that putting a face to the controversy can make it easier to love those wrapped up in it. Although Jacob does not have any exciting “see the light” moments, he does develop as a character; in learning how to approach moral controversy, he invites Christian readers—and, perhaps, readers of all faiths—to consider their own approach. Readers steeped in secular society may not be able to relate to Jacob’s problematic journey and conclusion, however, and some of his interactions and emotions may seem contrived to those who lack a similar base of experience.

Jacob’s struggle to balance rigid principles with unyielding love is one that most Christian readers can appreciate, but the book’s presentation makes it more suitable as a trigger for introspection than entertainment.

Pub Date: Dec. 22, 2011

ISBN: 978-1468190366

Page Count: 258

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2012

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A bold, fertile work lit by powerful images, often consumed by debate, almost old-school in its feminist commitment.

THE BOOK OF V.

Esther, the Old Testament teenager who reluctantly married a Persian king and saved her people, is connected across the ages to two more contemporary women in a sinuous, thoughtful braid of women’s unceasing struggles for liberty and identity.

Biblical Esther, second-wave feminist Vee, and contemporary mother-of-two Lily are the women whose narrative strands and differing yet sometimes parallel dilemmas are interwoven in Solomon’s (Leaving Lucy Pear, 2016, etc.) questing, unpredictable new novel. All three are grappling—some more dangerously than others—with aspects of male power versus their own self-determination. Esther, selected from 40 virgins to be the second queen—after her predecessor, Vashti, was banished (or worse)—is the strangest. Her magical powers can bring on a shocking physical transformation or reanimate a skeletal bird, yet she is still a prisoner in a gilded cage, mother to an heir, frustrated daughter of an imperiled tribe. Vee, wife of an ambitious senator in 1970s Washington, finds herself a player in a House of Cards–type scenario, pressured toward sexual humiliation by her unscrupulous husband. Lily, in 21st-century Brooklyn, has chosen motherhood over work and is fretting about the costumes for her two daughters to wear at the Purim carnival honoring Esther. Alongside questions of male dominance, issues of sexuality arise often, as do female communities, from Esther’s slave sisters to Vee’s consciousness-raising groups to Lily’s sewing circle. And while layers of overlap continue among the three women's stories—second wives, sewing, humming—so do subtly different individual choices. Finely written and often vividly imagined, this is a cerebral, interior novel devoted to the notion of womanhood as a composite construction made up of myriad stories and influences.

A bold, fertile work lit by powerful images, often consumed by debate, almost old-school in its feminist commitment.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-25701-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS

These letters from some important executive Down Below, to one of the junior devils here on earth, whose job is to corrupt mortals, are witty and written in a breezy style seldom found in religious literature. The author quotes Luther, who said: "The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn." This the author does most successfully, for by presenting some of our modern and not-so-modern beliefs as emanating from the devil's headquarters, he succeeds in making his reader feel like an ass for ever having believed in such ideas. This kind of presentation gives the author a tremendous advantage over the reader, however, for the more timid reader may feel a sense of guilt after putting down this book. It is a clever book, and for the clever reader, rather than the too-earnest soul.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1942

ISBN: 0060652934

Page Count: 53

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1943

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