Sunday, November 26, 2017

The Existence of Pity by Jeannie Zokan - Reshelved Books

Hey there Dewey Readers! I just finished an absolutely AMAZING book that I COULD NOT put down!  What is this amazing book, you ask?  Jeannie Zokan's The Existence of Pity.  

The cover has coffee beans! 
The Existence of Pity was one of the first books For the Love of Dewey was sent with a request to review on the blog.  Being relatively new bloggers, I'm not going to lie, I was little apprehensive  to do a review request.  It seems like a lot of pressure.  But the premise of this book interested me, and Zokan is a library science needless to say, I jumped on it. 

Now, about the book.  This novel takes place in 1976 Colombia and is told from the perspective of 16 year old Josie.  Josie and her family are missionaries who are in Colombia to spread the Baptist Gospel, but just because they're serving God does not mean that everything within their family dynamic is right and holy.  In fact, the secrets that linger within the family are anything but.  Josie's father is keeping a huge secret, as is Josie's mother, and her brother.  Josie too is keeping a secret, although not as large.  Josie, plagued with horrible nightmares, is beginning to find comfort in visiting a Colombian Catholic church and praying the rosary.  This turns out to be something that her parents find to be the most blasphemous sin of all (even though I think to most people's standards, the sin's of Josie's parents are far worse). --This actually made me think of my collection of healing crystals and how I hold them for comfort / pray with them.  My mom thinks it's weird. 

Josie's family has hired help in the form of Blanca, a native Colombian woman in her 20's who is dating a police officer named Juan Fernando.  I found Blanca's character to be my favorite part of the novel.  I loved the way that Zokan incorporated her accent into the English text, giving the reader a real sense of being immersed in Colombia.  I also liked how Zokan not only successfully portrayed her to be an employee, but also as a big sister figure, a friend, and an intelligent woman who knew what was going on with each family member before they knew themselves.  Blanca doesn't miss a beat.        

Now for those of you who aren't big Christian-fiction readers, do not be turned away from this book!  While religion plays a large part in the novel, it is not preachy.  Rather it uses religion to show how people can find comfort in different ways, which is done primarily through the Catholic / Protestant divide.  Being Protestant, I understand the differences but I also realize the similarities.  Unfortunately not everyone does, and Josie's parents are an example of this.  This novel is just as much a piece of Christian-Fiction as it is a thriller, a drama, and a coming of age young adult cross over / love story.  I wish my library consortium owned enough copies of this novel so that I could have it as a book club choice in my I Read YA book group.  I think the adults in the group would really enjoy it.  And Jeannie, if you're ever visiting northern NJ, I would love to set up an author visit with you!  So Dewey Readers, I leave you with a rating of 5 out of 5 Coffee Beans.  READ THIS BOOK! 


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