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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Road Home by Tommy Tenney and Mark Andrew Olsen

Ruth is a cocktail waitress on a strip in Las Vegas. Her husband and his brother have just recently died of separate causes. Their mother, Naomi, also a widow, has nothing to her name but a beat up Impala and thousands of dollars of debt. She decided to embark on a trip across America back to her roots in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and reinstate herself as an Old Order Mennonite. Ruth begs to go with her and Naomi allows her to. Together, in a car that might not last another day, they travel across the country on the road home to where they need to be.

Everyone who is a true Christian knows the story of Ruth. Tommy and Mark do not abandon the story at all, but predictably follow the storyline with a few additives. Save for some minor character development, there is nothing new or exciting about this retelling besides the extended road trip.

As I said, the characters are okay. Naomi's personality is the same as the real Naomi's personality in the Bible. Ruth lacks personality, and Boaz's has been changed. Otherwise, there are few characters but even fewer personalities. Fewer characters should mean better personalities, but obviously neither of these authors knows how to such properly.

People enjoy the story of Ruth because it is an ideal romance. Tragedy at the beginning, conflict in the middle, and a seemingly perfect male lead to save the day and become a replacement romance. There is really no point in retelling a story everyone should already know. One learns nothing from this. If an author will put their own spin on the story, this is another situation entirely. I do not mean modernize it like many have or expand upon an obscure part of the story like the authors did in this novel. I mean altering the story in a part where a major choice is made to see what an alternate outcome could have been. The argument for this is changing what the Bible says. This does not affect the Biblical account at all. This shows the reader why God did not allow certain things to happen and why He still does this.

The authors spent so much time on the long road trip, that other aspects of the story are thrown together. The end of the book, especially the meeting of Boaz, is obviously thrown together and rushed. Also, the parallels between the Bible and fiction are very obvious, not even bothering to change any of the names of people or cities. On one hand this is interesting because they took the time to find modern parallels.

There is nothing inherently wrong with this book, and it may be better than you might think, I just want the authors to be more creative.

2.5 stars

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