My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The writing style of this book involves several elements that my editors would have fits if I used them (such as frequent POV changes within scenes, the many adverbs attached to dialogue tags, and a lot of telling instead of showing). But these techniques don’t seem to bother the thousands of readers who love this book. I found the book boring at many points, but that’s probably due more to my tastes than in anything wrong with the book. My modern attention span requires a little more action.
The book is a retelling of the story of Hosea and Gomer and does a good job of showing the redeeming love of God for Israel, illustrated through Hosea, as exceedingly beautiful. I think the book is worth reading for that alone.
Much of the book is told from the perspective of the Gomer character. The author does a great job of evoking sympathy for her.
The fact that the Gomer character in the book is a stunning beauty doesn’t really fit the Hosea story very well. In the novel, the man who represents Hosea is first drawn to the prostitute because of her beauty. But the Hosea story teaches that God loved Israel, not because of her great attractiveness, but despite her hideous ugliness. But I suppose a romance with an ugly main character probably wouldn’t sell.
Another complaint is that the story portrays a man as righteous for marrying an unbeliever. I realize this is necessary to produce a retelling of the Hosea story, but I hope it doesn’t encourage the very unwise and sinful practice of “dating evangelism” or worse, marriage evangelism. When Christians get romantically involved with unbelievers in the hopes of converting them, it not only violates God’s clear command in Scripture (2 Cor.6:14, 1 Cor.7:39), but almost always results in a great amount of heartache.
My more substantive complaint about the book is over a statement that occurs around the midpoint of the book when the Hosea character assures the prostitute that “God had nothing to do” with the hardships she had endured. To suggest that is to deny the sovereignty of God and cheapens all our suffering. If God has nothing to do with it, it’s meaningless. Scripture is clear that everything comes from God.
Ecclesiastes 7:14 “When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other.”
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