I’ve had this book sitting on my desk daring me to review it. Yes, I’ve been procrastinating. Not because I didn’t like it–I did–but because I’ve had a hard time figuring out where to get started. Jaded isn’t the kind of book you plow through in an evening and gush about to your friends as “the best book ever!” It’s a book that demands for the reader to take it slowly, think about the message, and savor each bite.
Basics first: Jaded is Ruthie’s story. When Ruthie was seven years old, her daddy left, the church threw her momma out, and her best friend joined the rest of the church in looking the other way. Thirteen years later, Ruthie is okay with God but doesn’t want much to do with his people. They’ve certainly never given her a reason to try. Then Dodd moves to town–a handsome young preacher who doesn’t know her history, doesn’t understand the way the town looks at her, and is determined that the gospel is big enough for everyone. But power brokers in the church oppose Dodd and Ruthie’s relationship as fiercely as her own mother does, and both of them have to make a choice. What do you do when you love God but aren’t sure the church is worth the trouble?
Jaded is a well-written book, but it’s not an easy read. Honestly, I find that refreshing. I love Christian fiction, but a lot of what’s on the market is brain candy. Fun, light, sweet romance mixed with a little spiritual truth all wrapped up in a happy ending. There’s a place for that, but sometimes you want something savory to go with the sweet. Jaded is that something different. It’s powerfully written. You can taste the west Texas grit in the air and wouldn’t be surprised to discover Ruthie is your checker next time you got to the grocery store. But part of the power of the story is that Jaded demands for you to engage with it and think–not just about the book, but about the uncomfortable truths it demands we face.
The biggest struggle Ruthie has on her journey toward God is her relationship with the church. It’s an ugly thing thing when the church becomes the stumbling stone, but it happens more than we’d like to think. Ruthie’s story makes that personal. One of the things Jaded forces is to confront is that sometimes that judgmental holier-than-thou voice is what the church shows to the world. And yet, sometimes what we judge is what we become. Over the course of the novel, Ruthie has to face up to her own judgments about the church and about others and has to let go of her protective hardness to open herself up to love. Sin, judgment, and forgiveness are powerful themes woven through the book. You may find yourself agreeing with Ruthie that God’s people are a faulty, ugly, sticky mess–but we fit right in.
So who should read Jaded? If you enjoy women’s fiction and like stories with depth and complexity, Jaded is a great choice. It would also be a good book club choice. It’s an award-winning novel, there’s plenty to talk about, and a discussion guide is included. The sequel to Jaded, Justified, came out in June. It’s on my to-read list. I’d recommend putting Jaded on yours.
To learn more about the book and the author, check out Varina Denman’s blog and read her posts on Jaded and Justified.
I received a free copy of this book to review through The Blog Spot. All thoughts and opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.
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