Friday, April 14, 2017

2017 Reading Quest 12

BookEsther Ried's Awakening. Alternate title:  Esther Ried.

Author: Isabella MacDonald Alden.  Also sold under her pen name:  Pansy.

Info:  Copyright 1995: Wheaton, IL:  Living Books (Originally published in 1870)

Rating (on a scale of 1-4 stars):  ✮✭✭ 

Category:  Glorious Reread.

What it's about:   Nineteen year old Esther Ried has grown bored with the daily grind of serving in her mother's boarding house.  Worse yet, she has bored of Christianity and anything having to do with religion.  Surprisingly she gets an opportunity to spend a few weeks away in New York to attend her cousin's wedding and Esther thinks she's finally free.  However, this time away proves to bring her freedom of another kind.

What I Liked:
  • Though this book was written in the 19th century, the text doesn't present situations too vague or outdated to understand.
  • Not every Christian character in the book was some poor, ignorant vagrant.  There were characters who represented various socioeconomic strata.
  • The evangelistic and redemptive nature of the story was appealing.  The intelligent and creative method in which is was presented was refreshing.
What I didn’t like: 
  • Esther's younger sister, Sadie, bless her heart, is quite intelligent, but has no common sense.  Many of her interactions were frustrating to read, plus she was for all intents and purposes useless to her family in times of need.
  • I think Esther's mother should have done more to ease some of her burden.  She seemed very hard on Esther, but lax in her discipline with her other children (thus Sadie's uselessness) I also believe that she should have put her family's needs first in many situations where she was conspicuously absent. 
  • A couple of the characters had similar names and I often got them confused. 
Takeaway:  I first read this book in the mid 1990's at a time when my faith had grown cold and stale.  I had recently graduated from college--a very draining process--and hadn't consistently darkened the door of a church for far too long.  As I engrossed myself in this tale, I saw how Esther's spiritual plight could have been my own.  At the time, her attitude frightfully matched my dark mood.  At the conclusion of the novel, I felt encouraged.  It motivated me to get back in the Word and begin the process of renewal. 

The book meant so much to me that I reread it every couple of years.  Like The Shack, Esther Ried's Awakening doesn't tell me how to live; it encourages me to seek the One Who is life.

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