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Book Review: The Sweetest Thing by Elizabeth Musser

"A friend loves at all times." Proverbs 17:17a

Published June 1 2011 by Bethany House
400 pages
Christian Fiction/Great Depression/Coming of Age Story/Friendship/Romance/Mystery

Link for the book @ Christian Book:
http://www.christianbook.com/the-sweetest-thing-elizabeth-musser/9780764208317/pd/208317#curr
Paperback $9.99
eBook $9.69

Link for the book @ Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Sweetest-Thing-Elizabeth-Musser/dp/0764208314
Paperback $9.68
Kindle $10.19

Thank you to Bethany House and An Open Book for my free review copy!

It is 1933 and it is President Hoover's last day in office. The new President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his address to the nation stated "the only fear is fear itself." Yet, people are homeless, hungry, banks have closed, people have lost jobs, long lines form at soup kitchens, and people are praying for a miracle from the deafening roar of The Great Depression. 
Perri Singleton and her parents listen by radio to Roosevelt's address. They live in a southern mansion (reminiscent to Tara) in Georgia. Perri has a younger sister and brother. Perri's father works in a bank. Her father has seemed so lost in a daze of stress over the bank and the state of their affairs. Perri's mother seems so delicate. Perri and her mother after the radio address, drive over to the Chandler's home in order to meet their new guest from Chicago, Mary Dobbs Dillard. Dobbs and Perri are both about the same age, 17. Dobbs is the niece of Mrs. Chandler and she has come to live with the Chandler's in order to finish school and get a break from her life of "poverty." Dobbs father is a pastor to the impoverished, the needy, he is a "sawdust trail preacher." Dobbs' mother is a stoic and wise person. Dobbs has two younger sisters. She also has a beau named Hank.
Perri is a product of a wealthy family. She has gone to the best of schools, lived in the finest of homes, attended all the society functions, and is a member of the country club. She is beautiful, popular, smart, always has a swarm of friends with her, has several smitten fellas. Perri though has just been going through the motions in a home that is teetering on the edge of the precipice. Her well-ordered life will soon be surrounded in mystery, shame, and pain.
Dobbs is a product of a poor family. Poor in money, yet wealthy in family bond and love. Dobbs has gone to church all of her life, she sits on the front pew leaning in to listen to her father's messages of repentance and belief in Jesus. Dobbs has loved and trusted her father, even possibly idolized him without knowing it. She comes to Georgia reluctantly. Feeling rather different and sticking out because of her long hair and plain clothes, yet she is often bold in her speech. Her roots seem to be deep in her faith.
Both girls from different past lives will emerge on a single path. Both will learn things about themselves they'd thought would never happen. Both, will endure much.

I absolutely loved this book!
It is a southern tempo story. Have you ever read To Kill a Mockingbird, or any of Eudora Welty's stories. In these stories you probably noted the slow tempo of the stories. There is no hurried rush, but rather a gradual revealing of the characters and events.
There is excellent use of the environment to show emotions of the characters and events in the story. For example from page 58-59.
"Perched high up on a hill on Wesley Road, with a driveway that climbed and twisted around, our house appeared from behind a forest of trees as if in a dream-a three stories-white-brick mansion with six white columns out front and black shutters on the big windows, with front and back porches and big magnolia trees that surrounded the house. Everything that had at one time meant home and comfort and beauty now looked gray, as if a thin layer of ash had swept in on the breeze and settled on our house and yard."

The story deals with many issues from the 1930's, the south, and from life:
Socio-economic class
Black Servants
Poverty
Homelessness
Alcohol
Gambling
Gossip
Prejudice
Ignorance
Segregation
Apathy
Friendship

The story also shows:
Crisis of faith---doubt
Trust
Faithfulness even when we don't understand
Forgiveness
Reconciliation
Prayer

The author wrote on a subject that I've not seen in other Christian fiction books, at least not to this extent; the gnawing raw feelings of doubt about God, about His goodness and trusting in Him. The character that felt this way is vehement in her anger towards God. She does not hold anything back. I knew though that behind that mask of anger is fear. Fear that has become as enormous as the Titanic itself.

There is a mystery in the book and when that is resolved I was really surprised--I'd not expected the ending.

I did not feel that the book "wrapped up nicely like a Christmas package" but that it depicted the reality of life.

I have plans to re-read this book which is not the norm for me. I enjoyed this story so much, I recommend it to anyone. It is a great read for adult and for young adult.

Blissful Reading!
Annette

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