Many Christian authors are off at the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) this week, hobnobbing with all the names in Christian writing. Which means, it’s the perfect ‘cat’s away, mice will play’ opportunity for us to talk about their books, post a bunch of praise on social media, and stir up some new readers for them. Did I lose you at hobnob? Sorry. I love goofy words.
Author Cynthia Ruchti is among those happy ICRS hobnobbers, and I’d love to tell you about her new book, All My Belongings. It’s won a couple of awards recently, including a first place Golden Scroll Award from the Christian Author’s Network just this week. So, while she’s off collecting awards, let me tell you about her book.
Where do you turn when changing your name doesn’t give you the anonymity you want? When running hundreds of miles away isn’t far enough? When you search for a place to belong lands you right back where you began?
One phone call destroys all the hope Becca Morrow has for a life beyond the shame of her past. Further discredited by the death of her elderly, ailing patient—the mother of the influential businessman, Isaac Hughes—Becca’s new life is shattered and her longing for love slips away. Working to clear her name, Becca must learn to see the beauty in the ugliness of dying , to accept the tenderness in forgiveness, and—at last—discover that where she belongs isn’t as much about her family history as it is about her faith in the One to whom she’ll always belong.
All My Belongings is about forgiveness, the longing to belong, the beauty of being loved, and the wonder of godly friendships. But the thread that ties it all together is healing from a painful past. Becca, the main character has suffered from loneliness and rejection embodied by her comment, “Sometimes parents give you away, but they make you stay.” In the midst of loneliness from a painful relationship with her parents, and the fallout of her father’s “occupation” as a Kevorkian-like mercy killer, Becca has found a dear friend, Geneva, who has taken a mother-like role in her life.
As Becca’s friend Geneva helps her change her name, relocate, and find work caring for one of Geneva’s relatives, Becca begins to open up a little about the pain she has experienced. She carries few belongings, but much emotional baggage when she moves across the country to start over. Why the name change? She doesn’t want people to know of her connection to her now imprisoned father, a connection that stands in the way of her desire to become a nurse. Without giving away the plot, I can summarize the rest of the book by saying it’s an adventure in caretaking accompanied by new friendships, a shot at finding love—at last, and some bumps in the road to starting over.
How’s that for summarizing more than 300 pages in a paragraph or two? Speaking of plot, let me tell you what I liked without giving it away. When Geneva meets Geneva’s handsome nephew, Isaac, I had more than a sneaking suspicion of where the book was going, and I thought it odd that the foreshadowing of the ending would be so strong in the first third of the book.
Wrong! Just about the time I had the ending of the book all planned out, an unexpected twist caught me off guard. Halfway through the book, it seemed as if the whole story was wrapping up, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Again.
A whole new development led to several additional twists that kept me riveted to the plot. And near the end, when I again figured the story was winding down, and additional twist made this stand out from other fiction.
Many stories end with a happily ever after and leave readers with an unrealistic picture of life and relationships. In this book, the author ventures headfirst into confronting the pain of the past, rather than smoothing on some icing and calling it cake. Again, I can’t explain what exactly this means for Becca without giving away the plot, but let’s just say that she learns what real sacrifice and real forgiveness look like.
The realistic solutions to some of life’s nasty problems make this book stand out from other fluffy fiction. There’s nothing fluffy in true forgiveness and sweet freedom from regret. Ruchti engages the reader with a touch of humor and a delightful writing voice. Her unconventional—and not the least bit cliché—descriptions will satisfy the reader who enjoys a more literary style. I highly recommend the book, and Ruchti’s other books.