The book I picked up to read was The Sweetest Thing by Elizabeth Musser. I am always looking for good Christian fiction that I feel good about reading. That's the case with this one. Over the next two days, I stole minutes here and there to make my way through this book. When I was done, I had a strange sense of peace. The messages in the book deeply encouraged me. And I'd even say some of the statements in the book challenged me to rethink how I've been looking at some things in my life.
The Sweetest Thing is the story of a sweet friendship between Perri and Dobbs during the Depression. Dobbs comes to live with her aunt in Atlanta. At first, Perri and Dobbs are like oil and water, but then a tragedy binds them together as Perri comes to see Dobbs for the genuine person that she is. I really don't want to give away any of the plot. It is the story of very poor girl, Dobbs, who comes into a society who reacts with great animosity to her arrival. Perri is the lone girl who likes her. Of course there is a conflict in the story which involves a theft and threat to those she loves. But, this isn't a thriller. It is a heart-warming drama filled with hope.
There were several quotes which stuck with me. One of them is a quote from Dobbs Preacher father, "Unsolicited advice is always interpreted as criticism." (p. 216)
"You will never win people to Christ by pointing out their failings. You have to learn to care about them and love them first." (p. 216) We are reformed and so I firmly believe that it is not by our efforts that people come to believe in Christ--we are saved by God's grace...
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--Eph 2:8 NIV
But, this story is set in the depression and her father was a tent preacher so in context this statement was appropriate. The part though that we have to care about them and love them first is such a good reminder.
The writing of the story is not exceptional, but it is good and engaging. I love that the young girls behave in age appropriate ways--they aren't treated as adults, but as young adults. The adults act like adults and even when Dobbs and Perri don't understand their parents' decisions, they come to in the end.
The story was full of redemption and hope. There is a struggle of faith, but it didn't feel fake or contrived.
I look forward to reading more books by Elizabeth Musser.
Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Bethany House.