Reviewed by Julia Reffner
Desert Gift by Sally John
"Forgiveness is at the heart of the novel. Forgiveness between marital partners…between mother and daughter…and ultimately forgiveness between a woman and her God."
Sally John has written an emotionally insightful novel about the detours that happen in our lives and marriage, although Desert Gift seems to take the scenic route in terms of pacing.
Jillian Galloway is a female Dr. Phil, doling out marital advice on her nationally syndicated radio show. Her ratings have hit the roof. As her first book releases, her publicist recommends Jill take a publicity tour on the west coast.
As Jill heads out the door her husband of twenty-seven years shares some shocking news: He wants a divorce. When confronted with the unthinkable, Jill retreats to the familiar...her parents’ California home.
The book Jill is touring contains recipes for better communication with your mate, yet her husband avoids Jill’s every attempt to “talk it out.”
John presents the reality of what it means to succeed in marriage. Many look to advice books like Jill’s, but Desert Gift powerfully demonstrates that true success comes only in realizing our own sinfulness and brokenness and bringing it to the altar. God can then mend the brokenness of a relationship.
The characters in Desert Gift were realistic and instantly likeable. Jill and her husband showed spiritual growth throughout the novel. The message of encouragement and truth is needed in a culture that doesn’t value marriage.
Jill learns and grows through unexpected sources, such as an ex-boyfriend and several elderly ladies on a tour bus Jill’s sister runs. In addition to marital struggles, John also delves into family of origin issues. Jill has harbored some judgmental assumptions about her brother-in-law which she is forced to confront. Her insecurities in her relationships with her mother and sister come to the forefront. Ultimately I appreciated seeing the strengthening and relationship building.
Forgiveness is at the heart of the novel. Forgiveness between marital partners…between mother and daughter…and ultimately forgiveness between a woman and her God.
At times I was quite surprised by the turns this novel took, other times
I found myself predicting the twists and turns on the desert road.
Julia M. Reffner is blessed to be a servant to the King, married to the love of her life, a busy homeschool mom of two young children, and owned by one shedding longhaired cat. She is enjoying working on a women’s fiction novel in her spare time. She is a reviewer for Historical Novels Review quarterly, a magazine of the Historical Novel Society. Julia can be found blogging about God, literature and life at Dark Glass Ponderings and about writing at the group blog, The Writer's Alley.