Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Review: Watch Over Me by Christa Parrish

In pi, he saw the reflection of God. Pi was constant, always the same--yesterday, today, and forever. It was irrational, like the cross, foolishness to those who didn't believe. It was transcendental;no finite sequence of operations on integers could ever create it.

I thought Christa Parrish's debut novel, Home Another Way, showed a lot of promise and I was really looking forward to her second book. I started reading it after finishing The Dead and the Gone, with a little apology to her in case the book paled in comparison to those compulsive reads.

I didn't need to apologize. I was sucked in almost immediately to Watch Over Me. She has such a fantastic way with words, I found myself pulling out my pen several times to mark passages and rereading them, allowing myself to savor the beautiful use of language and the way the characters took shape and came to life.

And what great characters! Watch Over Me centers around Benjamin Patil and his wife Abbi, and a sixteen year old boy Matthew who suffers from a rare genetic disease that has left him deaf and with kidney failure. One day, Benjamin, the town's deputy and a former soldier to Afghanistan, finds a newborn abandoned in a field. He saves her life and the hunt for the mother begins. Benjamin and his wife Abbi are having marital troubles....troubles that began before he went to Afghanistan but have grown more severe since his return. Ben is clearly in pain, suffering from the death of his best friend and all he experienced during war. Abbi also suffers, from self-loathing and self-doubt and an in inability to accept Ben's love. And Matthew, who they hire to help out at the house, comes from a poor family and is in desperate need of a kidney transplant. Can the baby save Benjamin and Abbi's marriage? Can Matthew be saved?

Parrish reaches deep into the emotional core of these characters. They feel real and like people you know. I felt as though I was suffering with them and present with them throughout the story. I ached with their pain. I understood their doubt. I longed for them to find peace.

I really appreciate that Parrish doesn't take us into the dark regions of their heart and then paint a rosy picture perfect ending. I loved the ending, even cried a little. I found it emotionally satisfying, but not because everything turns out the way you want, but rather because hope blooms in unexpected ways.

I found Watch Over Me to be gorgeously written, emotionally honest, with well drawn characters I cared deeply about and you know what? I would even say it was a page turner. I hated to put it down and picked it up every chance I got.

A good book passage!

His father said science tied people together--everyone had the same cellular components, the same DNA--but books, Benjamin thought, formed tighter, more intimate connections. He walked the mall, the campus, the airport, looking at those who passed, trying to decipher the words within the person. Which words did they share? Had that mother comforting her crying toddler read Anna Karenina? Did the Count of Monte Cristo stand sentry on the bookshelf of the business in the food line...what about titans of the past--presidents, kings, and explorers? What books had they experienced along with him, and insignificant Desi boy who still forgot to throw his dirty clothes in the hamper?

Rating: 4.75/5
Things You Might Want to Know: Christian fiction
Publisher: Bethany House
Source of Book: Review copy from publisher



Sandy Nawrot said...

I love an author that can fight the impulse to wrap everything up with a big pink bow at the end. Give me the raw emotion! Give me some tragedy! Sounds like Parrish hit the mark on this one!

bermudaonion said...

When I'm drawn to characters like that, I'm so sad when the book ends because I miss them - they've become a part of me.

Margot at Joyfully Retired said...

I'm glad I saw your post today. Just yesterday I was wondering if Christa Parrish was working on anything else. I really enjoyed Home Another Way. Those characters stayed with me for the longest time and her writing was superb. That book also didn't end in a nice tidy little package. Thanks for bringing this one to my attention. I'm off to find it.

Holly (2 Kids and Tired) said...

This one looks fascinating. I really want to read it.

Jenny Girl said...

That passage is wonderful. Makes you stop and thinnk. Good review Amy.

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