Rooms of Redemption

Sorry that nothing Valentiney came to mind this year for my Valentine’s week blog post. I have been writing, like I have wanted to be, so the blog posts might not be as seasonal this year. Maybe. I could be a refreshing break from all the chocolate, hearts and flowers!

I love Valentine’s Day, though. It’s fun.

My son’s school told me they are probably doing something Valentine’s Day, but it does not have to be a parent award ceremony for who can make the biggest show of cool Valentines. Ha. I’ll miss those cellophane wrapped frosted heart cookies.

One would think that books called Rooms would have been in the Halloweeny books of October. The first book I read was initially intended for this fate, but it was not a scary book, not in the Halloween-y sense.

But spaces are not just for capturing your soul for all time. In an interesting synchronicity, both of these books are about actually about saving the soul. Yes, these rooms are about redemption.

rooms rubart.jpg

Rooms, James Rubart

So I unintentionally stumbled across Christian fiction, but even though I don’t typically read Christian fiction, this one held me past the time I realized what it was. I also very much enjoyed The Shack, but I have not read it recently enough to include it here.  It was mysterious, it was riveting, a man unmoored and spiritually floundering goes back and forth between being saved and being true to himself and being rich and powerful, all the external trappings of success. It considers what success and happiness are made of, according to some ways of thinking.  My only issue with it was that sometimes the dialogue was a little stilted, but as I am putting myself out there writing my own stuff, I can’t fault someone for that too much. It’s difficult to write compelling and real sounding dialogue. It did not turn me off enough to taint my entire review, like stilted dialogue has done with a few other traditionally published things that I have read.

But something a little more Gothic that I just started reading when I couldn’t read Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (because it is not Whispersync-ed, believe it or not. There is an audio, and there is an ebook, but going between them routinely was not a happy experience. The book is over 700 pages):

rooms Oliver.jpg

Rooms, Lauren Oliver

I bought this on sale after never having heard of it because it had my favorite word! This is Gothic in a sense that secrets unfold all along the way. Vices, ghosts, and half truths until the end. An ex wife and two children come back to manage a haunted house after the death of the man who lived in it, a man whose choices left devastation in his wake. The ex wife is in the throes of drinking, the adult daughter is addicted to meaningless sex, and the teenaged boy wants to die.  Moreover, there are two ghosts in the walls whose stories also unfolds interwoven with the living. It’s a beautiful read if you can get past thinking how sick the alcoholic must feel all the time, but that’s just me. Everyone finds their way closer to being healed in this book. The ghosts are probably the only ones that really get to be whole, but the living progress toward their own wholeness. I like that the movement is toward healing, but everyone does not come out fixed in the end, because that is unrealistic.  People do get fixed, they really do, don’t think this psychologist is chilling out on the internet saying that they do not. But these characters’ pain is so entrenched it will take more than a few days to pry loose and make sense of and move on. There is significant prying loose, but not so much progress as to be unrealistic.

February marches on.

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