Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Stray Drop of Blood, by Roseanna M. White

The highest praise I can give a book is that it makes me forget I am reading. If a book is well written, I see it play out in movie form in my head. If a book is extremely well written, I feel myself living the story. The latter most definitely describes Roseanna White’s A Stray Drop of Blood. As I count Roseanna among my newly made friends, it gives me great pride to review her book, which has completely captivated me.
From the minute I picked the book up, I was enveloped in the story. I smelled the smells of the marketplace, I felt the breezes, I heard the singing of Hosanna. A Stray Drop of Blood is one of those rare stories that provides such thorough and intricate details as to weave the story around the reader like a tapestry, yet it is not overly detailed to the point where the reader gets bogged down.

The story is set in Jerusalem, in the days just before Christ’s teaching began, and as the story progresses, through Christ’s teaching, trial, death, resurrection, and the birth of His church. Yet that is only a small part of the story at first. The story is primarily about a woman named Abigail, the journey her life takes, and what happens when her path quite literally crosses that of Jesus.

Roseanna does a phenomenal job of developing her characters. They are not just characters, actually, they are us. There are qualities in these people that we recognize in ourselves. I find it refreshing that Roseanna touched upon the theme of the female role in biblical times. So many biblical stories revolve around strong male central figures, their struggles, their triumphs, that we as Christian women sometimes struggle to find relatable role models for Christian life. I liked the fact that Abigail struggled with her faith, struggled with be sin and redemption, fell only to be lifted again into the arms of God. These are all struggles I too have had, and as a result of which felt unworthy. It is amazing how a work of Christian fiction can bring peace when partnered with biblical teachings.

In the past, I have not always been a huge fan of Christian fiction, having found it to be a bit heavy handed. However, Roseanna’s book is more than a work of Christian fiction. The amount of historically accurate detail would appeal to secular readers as well, and the Christian lessons in the story, while powerful, are subtle, something you must be open to in order to let them swell your heart.

In this Lenten season, this book is a fantastic tool for Christian reflection on how we let God guide our lives, and the very real impact of Christ’s sacrifice. I would highly recommend this book for book clubs, Christian fellowship groups, and particularly youth and young adult groups, as the female protagonists is a young woman herself, dealing with adult situations not that different (at the root of the matter) than what today’s youth face.

For those who like biblical and historical fiction, I would also recommend that you check out The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant. Focusing on figures from the Old Testament, this would be considered more Jewish fiction than Christian fiction, but it remains one of my favorite fictional works involving real biblical figures. It also focuses on the lives of biblical women.

I cannot say enough positive things about A Stray Drop of Blood. Its beauty made me weep, and as I neared the end of the book, I felt myself saddened that my time with its characters was coming to an end. Perhaps this will become a part of my annual Easter reflection.