Saturday, September 2, 2017

New Release & Review: Fall from Grace by Libby Sternberg

Wrenching Journey of Redemption

Libby Sternberg has just released a new novel - Fall from Grace.

Here's the blurb:
Eli Baine has sinned. Spectacularly. When he's caught using a prostitution ring, the news blasts across print and broadcast media: the son of a reality TV evangelical clan, whose Christian lifestyle is showcased regularly in Baine Family Values television episodes, is exposed as a hypocrite. Carted off to rehab, Eli chafes at being lumped in with molesters and serial adulterers. But when he escapes to visit his wife, Ruth, he finds no solace there. She can hardly bear to look at him, let alone admit him back into her life with their infant child. This sets Eli off on a hard journey toward redemption, understanding and reconciliation. His first stop is at a mainline Protestant church that embraces him with tolerance and support, but where he must endure counseling from a “she-priest” and an ultimate betrayal by someone who'd offered a helping hand. Meanwhile, Ruth herself sets out on a healing path, being counseled by a new, young pastor at her parents' fundamentalist church who offers her more than just spiritual guidance. Both Eli and Ruth wander in the wilderness of heartbreak, distrust, and eventual tragedy until they finally transform into different individuals who can see the light of hope and love in their marriage and their lives.

One of the things I missed doing during my hermit crab phase this August was review this, so here are my thoughts. I don't really read contemporary Christian fiction, so I can't compare this to others in its genre. But simply as a story, Fall from Grace is an interesting read.

The two main characters, Eli and Ruth, are very flawed. In fact, Eli is a spoiled schmuck and in the first few chapters I wouldn't have been surprised if he turned into a serial killer or something equally villainous. His wife Ruth starts off as basically a doormat. With these two starting off as being so unlikable you may wonder why I kept reading, it's because the writer has a knack for making you feel sympathy for the devil. Eli starts out in a not so good situation, and manages to keep making it worse. I was reading it and thinking "dude, seriously?" and shaking my head. The writer really puts both characters through the wringer emotionally, and I think that makes the redemption arc something to appreciate.

The story is set, for the most part, within the Christian community and I found that an interesting change from the usual generic mainstream fiction setting. I don't know how authentic the details are but it felt real to me, which made the book more immersive.

A worthwhile novel to read, whether you are religious or not, as it deals with very human failings and struggles and the will to change.

*A review copy of this book was provided to me by the author free of charge*

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