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4.5 Stars: Modern reflections on the Biblical Ruth
Bonnie K. Winn's TO LOVE AGAIN is a heartwarming inspirational romance with a contemporary reflection on the biblical character of Ruth in the life of a widow and mother whose dead husband was abusive and whose mother-in-law continues to try to control her life today. TO LOVE AGAIN is well-written, heartwarming, and would appeal to the newly converted as well as many shades of faith maturity. Conflicts are well developed from a faith and literary viewpoint. The absence of graphic details makes this book a good choice for a wide ranged age group. In addition, the book includes a short list of 10 questions to guide reading for individual readers, book clubs and church groups.
Laura Manning's abusive husband Jerry has died. She has been left with little financial support and what she does have is controlled by others by the terms of her husband's will. In order to support her children, she must find her independence, a job and most of all courage. When she moves her family from the Houston to the small town of Rosewood, Texas, Laura is faced with new challenges. She must rebuild her life in a new town and deal with her husband's best friend and his parents who thought Jerry was a saint.
Winn's book outshines many other inspirational literature in many ways. First, the theme of spousal abuse, often ignored in Christian literature, is well-written as part of a character's past and present throughout the novel. Even better, the romance and the heroine's potential is not limited to a label from that experience --- which can be the other tendency once the very topic comes up. TO LOVE AGAIN is a romance, not a psychological treatise, and Bonnie K. Winn uses the theme and develops it without getting weighed down so as to lose the romance. Secondly, unlike some Christian literature, Bonnie K. Winn does not create stiff one dimensional black and white characters. By including shades of grey, Winn increases the inspirational aspect of this romance in portraying a more realistic and thus more heartwarming image of everyday life of a person of faith in a small town. Finally, who would not love Winn's reflection on the biblical character of Ruth, in a completely different and modern context! Winn's literary reflection creates some very nice twists and developments on this biblical theme throughout the book. In my opinion, this is the best aspect of her romance as inspiration.
This book is best read with Winn's other Rosewood, Texas novels where the stories of the secondary characters are told. Without that context, some of the secondary characters appear somewhat flat. Otherwise this novel is a fun read as a stand alone.
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