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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Book Review, The Messenger

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The Messenger by Siri Mitchell is set in colonial times just prior to the revolutionary war. Hannah Sunderland is a good Quaker girl who adheres to the strict Quaker values of simplicity and pacifism. But it's getting harder and harder to be impassive as the British soldiers take what they want from the Colonials, often mistreating them and holding over them an air of superiority with no regard for their well being.   When her brother ends up jailed after standing up for an injustice and then joining the colonial cause, she chooses to disregard her parent's command not to visit him. The conditions of the jail and prisoners is horrific. They are without food, water or warm clothing or blankets and the officials who oversee the jail are corrupt.

Hannah ends up collaborating with Jeremiah Jones, a Colonial spy, who was disabled when he lost an arm during battle at Devil's hole.  Bitter and stand offish Jeremiah is the owner of a local tavern. He's the last person Hannah could possibly relate to. But when Jeremiah needs to get important messages to the prisoners in the jail who are planning an escape and Hannah needs a pass to get in, they must come to rely on each other.

As the story progresses Hannah comes to question the rigid rules of her own faith and develops a tenderness toward Jeremiah who has been ostracized partially due to his injury. At the heart of this story is the question, "Is following rules and regulations set by religion the right thing to do especially when they cause us to disregard important commands by Christ to care for the poor, hungry and needy. It also asks the question as to whether being a pacifist is the right thing when great wrongs are being done to humanity.

I felt that at times the story bounces back and forth between Jeremiah and Hannah without much action taking place. There are many visits to the jail but almost the same thing happening each time. I also felt that the chemistry between the two characters could have been a bit stronger. However, the overall story is good and based on true accounts, according to Mitchell. I don't want to ruin it by giving away all the secrets. I give this book a rating of 3 out of 5 stars.

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