Saturday, July 31, 2010

Reading Challenge of 2010: July

5:19 PM
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
For this month’s book club discussion, we read The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, a historical novel set in Biblical times. While I recognized many of the characters, the story I did not know. It begins with Jacob, forefather of the Jewish race, and his wives. Jacob took four wives and had 12 sons through the women. These sons became the 12 tribes of Israel. Jacob also had one daughter, Dinah, and The Red Tent is her story. The family of Jacob lived a nomadic life, and the red tent was a place for women to deliver the babies and have their monthly cycles. In this tent, traditions about womanhood and family is shared. Dinah, the only daughter of the family patriarch, was privy to her families stories early on, and also grew in the skills of a midwife. She longed for the day when she would have family stories of her own. She married a prince of the neighboring kingdom, and Dinah believed her fairytale was coming true. Until blind rage and pride left bloodshed and heartbreak in the kingdom. Dinah was widowed and pregnant and no longer welcome to return to the land of her mothers. She was to live as a foreigner in Egypt. Dinah’s struggles are painful, and her joy is fleeting. The Red Tent is beautifully written. It created such a different story than the one told in Scripture. I went back to Genesis and read the story of Jacob and his wives, his sons and Dinah. She’s usually missed between Jacob’s wrestle with God and Joseph’s dreams, and has most likely been forgotten. But her pain is forever captured there as well. I was glad to have read a book that opens my eyes to parts of the Bible I had missed.

The Passage by Justin Cronin
This beast of a book was our next book club selection. At 766 pages, it’s definitely the longest one I’ve attempted to read in quite awhile! So needless to say, I was thankful to be sucked in immediately and finished it in under 2 weeks. The Passage is a vampire thriller, but not with the misunderstood, emotional, brooding lovesick vampires we've seen in pop culture lately. These vamps are out for blood. What started as a science experiment gone wrong, ends as a worldwide epidemic leaving millions in its wake. The fate of survival rests on one girl, The Girl Who Came From Nowhere. Will the vampires prevail? Or will human life win out? Cronin beautifully sets up each character and gives so much rich background information, so the reader really has sense of the story being crafted. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book that I enjoyed so thoroughly, and that even when I put it down, I kept thinking about what was going to happen next. All 766 pages are worth the read.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Ever since I re-discovered the young adult genre, people have been recommending The Hunger Games series to me. I had put it off and put it off, but just this week, I picked it up at the bookstore I work at. And then I didn’t put it down. What a compelling story! In a futuristic society, North America as we know it no longer exists, and in its place are Districts. Each District has its purpose, and each purpose determines the District’s status. District 12 is the poorest of the poor, where the majority of the citizens are miners and almost all are starving. Katniss, the 16-year-old heroine, has been fending for her family through illegal hunting and black market bartering since her father’s death five years earlier. And her world is rocked as she is to compete in this year’s Hunger Games. This competition will not only test her survival skills, but her character as well. As I flew through the chapters, I found myself rooting for Katniss’ survival, and cheering on her budding relationship with co-competitor, Peeta. But would it all be for nothing? Would they make it through? Because there could only be one winner of The Hunger Games. This is great action-adventure-romance is a fantastic book for readers of all ages. Can’t wait to start the sequel!

About the author

Joy Muldoon is a full-time missionary and part-time blogger. Read about her travels, adventures, and missions here!