Book Reviews

I've finished a few books over the summer. Here are some brief reviews.

The Firm by John Grisham
This is a typical John Grisham book. A lawyer gets mixed up in a conspiracy that is bigger than he expected. The drama and suspense build to a massive climax that works out exactly like you would hope - almost. It's a little creepy, but that also makes it intriguing. I like John Grisham for a good fun read, but on my 6th or so Grisham book, his style is becoming fairly predictable. Only 3j's this time: jjj.

Ten Thousand Sorrows by Elizabeth Kim
This autobiography, by a Korean-American adoptee, is alternatingly haunting and informative. I am enjoying reading books about Korea these days, and the beginning of this book gives us a good look into Korean village life in the 60s. After a brief early childhood with a loving single mother, Elizabeth Kim is launched into one hellish situation after another. This is the story of her hells and her recovery process as a young adult who again lives as a single mom. It is terrible and beautiful. I highly recommend it: JJJJJ.

The Pearl by John Steinbeck
This is my second book by Steinbeck. I also read Of Mice and Men. I'm starting to think that, although Steinbeck is an excellent writer, he's not my kind of writer. Both books were very well written, but very sad. The Pearl is about how a young family's fortunes are deeply changed when the man finds a huge and perfect pearl. It is a story of poverty and injustice and fatalism. I am such an optimist that this story left a bitter taste in my mouth. But, alas, perhaps that was the intent. All in all: jjj.

The Long Season of Rain by Helen Kim
This is a short (fictional?) memoir by Korean-American Helen Kim, of a few months of her family history. Her family became the foster home for an orphan who lost his family in a mudslide. The drama that unfolds reveals much about traditional Korean marriages, traditional Korean families, and traditional prejudices toward orphans in Korea. I think it is intended as a youth novel, but I didn't find it childish. I really enjoyed it, but it lacks the sophistication for a full 5 J's: jjjj.

Sex God by Rob Bell
Rob Bell's second book is good, but not phenomenal. Here he is exploring the connections between sexuality and spirituality. He takes the questionable stand that everything is sexual because everything that involves connecting with others is inherently sexual. I think this is stretching the point a bit too far, but I really appreciate his wonderful explanation of the sexual/marriage based images that permeate the Bible's description of God's relationship with humanity. I'm sure I will use this book when I'm working on a theology of sexuality for the fall sermon series on sex. All in all, very good: jjjj.