Letters from Ruby
Heart Touching story
I have to admit the reason I was drawn to this story was because it's set in WV my home state, but that isn't what held my attention. Instead it was the depth of characters that totally enamoured me with this beautiful, heart touching story.
Twenty-six year old Calvin Harper is fresh out of seminary school when he gets an assignment in a tiny town called Victory WV. His first encounter in the town doesn't go so great when he almost gets arrested for breaking into the church. Unsure what to expect as he meets the parishioners after all only twelve shows up for his first service, he can only hope that he can turn things around. One of the parishioners, Ruby Redding becomes his champion, always trying to build him up, and even allows him to move into her house with her husband Whit until he can get his living arrangements sorted out. After eighteen months in Victory he is assigned to Boston, and while his stay in Victory is short his life will be forever changed by the people he encounters while staying there.
What I presumed would be a simple story really turned out to be so much more. Sure the story had a cozy, down home feel,but it was the author's ability to allow me to feel the emotions of the story that touched me. I found myself laughing a few times especially as I imagined the characters. After all I am certain that Esther Rose actually goes to my church, but honestly as I was pulled into the story I felt as if I knew these people because they seemed so realistic.Ruby Redding was such an outstanding character, I loved her sunny outlook, but I also found my heart aching as the author allowed me to feel her grief and sadness when she loses someone near and dear to her heart. She became the type of character that makes a person feel richer for even having known her, and the author captures that perfectly. I loved reading the letters she sent, they were so informative allowing us to experience glimpses into the past. The author's descriptive writing really allowed me to imagine the church and the people. A wonderful story that reminded me of the importance of friendship, a story that was encouraging as well as uplifting.There are discussion questions included with this book that makes it a perfect book club read. Anyone looking for an emotionally touching story that will leave you feeling blessed for having read it, should really pick up "Letters from Ruby." On a scale of one to five I would easily give this book a six because it's just that good!
A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review.
October 28, 2013
delightful priest coming of age story
Move over, Father Tim. The town of Victory, West Virginia has a new priest, Ã¢ÂÂa green kid that the bishop sent because there was no one else to come.Ã¢ÂÂ
Newly ordained Episcopal priest Rev. Calvin Harper has arrived in the small community to be the pastor of their ailing parish. He has no idea how much he has yet to learn about caring for a church and a community. Ruby Redding, one of the elderly Morning Prayer regulars, takes him under her wing.
What an enjoyable book. Unlike Jan Karon's Father Tim, Calvin is a novice. Victory is his first parish and the learning curve is steep. He starts out on the wrong foot when he is arrested for breaking into his own church Ã¢ÂÂ all because he couldn't find an unlocked door. God's mentoring grace comes in the form of an elderly woman, Ruby. She has all the wisdom of a long devoted life and shares it with Calvin as he needs it. And need it he does Ã¢ÂÂ especially when Esther Rose, another of the Morning Prayer regulars, gives him a list of what he did wrong after every meeting.
The story is revealed to us in parallel tracks. We follow Calvin as learns all the lessons he was never taught in seminary, and we also read letters Ruby has written to Calvin after he has moved on to another parish. As the novel progresses, we learn more about Ruby, her youth, and her marriage to Whit. We are treated to two stories Ã¢ÂÂ one about a novice priest learning about life, love, and grief, and another about a woman full of wisdom from her eighty years of living.
This is a tender coming of age story as Calvin lives into his calling to the priesthood. I really like him. He has a sense of humor, is humble enough to learn from others yet firm enough to take control at a funeral squabble. He's the kind of priest you'd like to have at your parish.
A delightful novel that will have you wanting a sequel.
I received a complimentary galley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.
October 28, 2013
Do we ever think about what it might have been like for our pastors and priests when they were called to their first parish? Letters from Ruby is the debut novel from Reverend Adam Thomas, and was inspired by his first assignment after ordination. ItÃ¢ÂÂs set in a West Virginia town that has definitely seen better days. ThereÃ¢ÂÂs an aging population; most of their children have moved away. CalvinÃ¢ÂÂs trouble starts when thereÃ¢ÂÂs no one to meet him when he arrives. As a result, heÃ¢ÂÂs almost arrested for breaking and entering into his new church. After spending the night in a motel, he arrives back at the building for Morning Prayer and meets four retired ladies who take him under their wing. These are the ladies who appear to do everything at the church. I think every church has a similar group. They are the ones who assist with communion and can be found behind the serving counter at every church dinner. It is one of these ladies, Ruby, who takes a special interest in Calvin.
Letters from Ruby provides much food for thought. Calvin isnÃ¢ÂÂt perfect, and neither are his parishioners. But, as he learns in a beautiful passage, each has their place in GodÃ¢ÂÂs kingdom. The Morning Prayer ladies have a few rough edges, but they reflect GodÃ¢ÂÂs love in individual ways. There are moments of humor as well as drama. We see what happens not only when a church comes together, but also when thereÃ¢ÂÂs discord. Calvin can bring together the parishioners for a good cause, but itÃ¢ÂÂs a different story when he dares to suggest some changes. I do, however, suggest you have the Kleenex nearby. I donÃ¢ÂÂt want to give away any aspects of the plot, but there is enough of a lead in that you develop a sense of whatÃ¢ÂÂs coming. Still, a few tears are a small price to pay for such a delightful read.
Thank you to Abingdon Press for my free Advance Reader Copy of Letters from Ruby, which I received in exchange for an honest review.
October 28, 2013
Very young, wet behind the ears but ready to serve the Lord, Calvin Harper arrives at his first parish in the small town of Victory as their new priest. Being a bit nervous and shy he has no idea what to expect. Morning Prayer is always attended by four quirky, elderly ladies that break him in quickly: Avis, Esther Rose, Mary, and Ruby. From their first awkward meeting he never dreamed the impact these women would have on his life, especially Ruby. She takes the new priest gently under her wing, encouraging, guiding, and teaching him not only about dealing with all the different personalities in his new church, but also about life.
They bond as the story of Calvin navigating the perils of his new ministry unfolds. He grows with RubyÃ¢ÂÂs help by learning to face each challenge through GodÃ¢ÂÂs eyes, not the circumstances he faces. Although Calvin only serves at the church for three years, he grows very close to Ruby and her husband.
When he is assigned to a new church in Boston, Ruby keeps in touch my writing him. These letters are very personal in nature, sharing about her childhood, young adulthood, courtship, and marriage with her beloved husband, Whit. This is where you get a glimpse the World War 2 era through the eyes of the young people of that time. My favorites were the love letters she exchanged with the two soldiers in her life. The poignancy and sensitivity with which the author writes these letters, it is hard to believe they were not real. Her correspondences also reveal the heartaches and hardships faced by senior citizen as they age.
This book was a blessing in several ways. I found it a sheer pleasure to read. Also, RubyÃ¢ÂÂs character was such a blessing in her godly, peacemaking attitude in dealing with others, and her great faith and courage in dealing with her own trials. But one of the most surprising ways it touched me was totally unexpected. Some of the women in the story faced the death of their cherished husbands. Their struggles and emotions in comforted me as I had just lost my precious husband a month earlier. This book is beautifully written and touches you on every emotional level you can conceive. Definitely one you want to read!
I received this book free from Abingdon Press. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
September 24, 2013