Sunday, January 31, 2010

Blog Tour: Songs of Deliverance (review)


Songs of Deliverance is the latest book release by Marilynn Griffith.

Within the novel, Griffith weaves together the stories of four childhood friends, torn apart by the mistakes and tragedies of their past. Now as adults, they are reunited in their hometown of Testimony, Ohio, where they sort through the messy, real-life struggles of secrets kept hidden, lost loves and unknown futures.

The book features Zeely Wilkins - the one with the beautiful voice that earned her the nickname “Birdie,” when she was younger.  Now engaged to marry Jerry, her life seems to be back on track, though she struggles to bury feelings for her high school sweetheart.

Grace Okoye - who can make you hold your breath when she dances, but ever since that night more than a decade ago, she has pushed that dream—like so many others—aside.

Ron Jenkins, the lone white guy who once used to preach in the black church, has returned to Testimony, now as a lawyer. He questions whether he should be here, and when enough is enough when it comes to matters of the heart.

Brian Mayfield, with his long dreadlocks, had walked away from the church awhile ago. Only recently has he started to turn back to God and find strength for healing and patience. He never knew his biological mother but is determined to make a difference in the lives of the students at Imani Academy, with the help of his assistant, Grace Okoye.

The book focuses on how the friends began to help and encourage each other as they address the pains, heartaches and tragedies of their past—and get a second chance to make things right.

Though never easy, the friends experience a spiritual awakening as they begin to face their secrets and sorrows and offer their struggles over to God. They learn the beauty and strength in friendship, and the inexhaustible depth of God’s healing grace and redemption—no matter how hopeless or doomed things may seem at first.

What I Thought
First off, I liked the book in general. I thought Griffith wove the stories of four friends together in an interesting way. I also thought she kept the novel moving quickly, as things began to unfold in the lives of her main characters - Ron and Zeely. 

The book is a sequel - to Rhythm of Grace (see below for info about this book), but billed as a "stand alone" novel. Honestly, I think that billing is a disservice to the reader, and to Griffith.

I spent the first half of the book trying to figure out what was happening. The story jumps so quickly, that if you didn't read the first book, it was like coming into a play in the second act. I assume (haven't picked up the first book) that the first book lays the ground work so you can appreciate the direction, rhythm and flow of Songs of Deliverance.

With that said, I loved Griffith's description of worship - although, I'm not sure I've ever encountered a service with so much emotion and feeling. I also love how she describes the feelings and interactions between Grace and Brian and Zeely and Ron.

But, because I "jumped" into the story in the second book, I spent way too much time trying to figure things out, and understand why things were happening. Even now, as I reflect on the book, some questions are still unanswered, because the foundational elements were in her first novel.

I truly think, in order to enjoy this novel, you should take the time to first pick up Rhythms of Grace. Only then will you truly find the deliverance Griffith writes about - and appreciate the journey of faith the four characters take in the final manuscript.

I am pleased that this book came across my desk. It's introduced me to a strong, Christian writer. I look forward to seeing what Griffith comes up with next.

More About Marilynn Griffith
Marilynn Griffith is a freelance writer and conference speaker whose online columns and blogs reach thousands of women each year. She is the author of the Shades of Style series. Marilynn lives in Tallahassee, Florida, with her husband and their seven children.

Read more about Griffith by visiting her blog: www.marilynngriffith.typepad.com.

Find Songs of Deliverance on line at Amazon.com

Find all of Griffith's books at Amazon.

The First Book in the Series: Rhythms of Grace


Grace Okoye was a promising young dancer when her career was cut short by a brutal assault that left her scarred for life.

Twenty years later, when her past gets in the way of her happiness, she heeds the invitation of her dance instructor and returns home to help hurting children and rediscover the rhythms of grace.

What she doesn't expect is to meet a man who already seems to know her beat. But for all they share in common, the biggest thing in Grace's life is noticeably absent in his--faith. She's finally found the love of her life, but can she choose between him and God? Find it online at Amazon.com


Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail.

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