Saturday, August 18, 2012

Book Review: Cruel Harvest

So the cotton sack, though heavy,
   and the terror of each night,
Did not ever break our spirit;
   we kept Jesus in our sight.
~Fran Elizabeth Grubb (last lines of her poem)

Rarely does a book get under my skin in the way that Cruel Harvest: A Memoir has done. I will never forget it. It is a raw, haunting tale of Fran Elizabeth Grubb's life as the daughter of an abusive, alcoholic migrant worker up to her bold escape at the age of fourteen and her greatest desire to find members of her family to mend their relationships. The book mercifully flashes between her adulthood as each brother and sister is found to her memories of the life they endured before they scattered.

It is a book I found disturbing to read and yet I could barely put it down. The accounts of starvation and abuse of emotional, physical, and sexual natures were sensitively described in just enough detail to wrench my heart and yet throughout it I felt this undercurrent of hope and even joy, because in a flash to her adulthood it is clear that she had not only survived, but conquered her past. Sadder to me was that her father was not her only abuser and I wondered how a child who had so little experience with good people could even recognize goodness at all. Still, while I sensed that all she survived had shaped her early life, a victim is not who she is today. She had found God along the way and had given forgiveness to those who had done what others might see as unforgivable acts against herself and those she loved most.

Finding and connecting with her family members was Fran's dream, one that her husband worked with her to make come true, a dream that she hoped would mend her broken heart for her family. If she lived through it and could write about it demonstrating the joy she has now, then one can endure the discomfort of reading through the abuse to beyond, to receive the blessing of forgiveness I believed Fran wished to share. No matter how bad another can make your life, the true freedom, hope, power, and joy is in following Jesus' example of forgiveness.

Thank you, dear Fran, for writing this book.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

~ My Lord, I ask that you continue to bless Fran and her family as well as the countless children who have abuse in their lives. May they seek and find You. ~

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Thank you fellow travelers for walking and talking with me along this journey.