Bindings: Reflections on faith, life, and good books
1/31/13 at 02:18 AM 0 Comments

The Leaving, by Ruth Crews (OakTara)

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This is one of those books you know you're going to finish before you have any idea where the plot is going. The writing is that fun.

The second in the "Gatekeeper" series, The Leaving picks up where Gatekeeper leaves off, with our heroine, Anna Merritt, a senior at Hope College, facing graduation and a highly uncertain future. Having returned from England the term before--correction, most of her returned from England the term before. Her heart remained behind. And therein lies her conundrum. Faced with the typical English-Lit major's fears of how on earth to market her vanilla degree, she does what many of us do: cling to the past, the known, the familiar and attractive. In Anna's case, that's England. But moreover, she clings to the hope of getting back to the UK as soon as possible. But how? (the conundrum)

Each chapter begins alternately with a letter from Anna to her erstwhile companion in adventure at Oxford, Eddie, and his responses to her. She bares her soul and its dreams to him, and he returns his wit and wisdom concerning where Anna should be focusing her efforts; that is, where she is and the life she's living now, lest she at best miss it, at worst screw it up. Undeterred, Anna presses on, barely tolerating her studies and her fellow students in her fixation on the isle across the Atlantic. And she gets a little annoying in that fixation, quite honestly. But ya still gotta love her.

This is a tale of an inner journey, one that is so believably delivered that you wonder how much of it is autobiographical. (Ruth...?) So, if you're looking for jeeps blowing up, blood-dripping knives, or Lancaster County intrigue, read no more of this. But if you enjoy an incredibly fresh, young, witty voice learning life and how it should be approached, well, settle in for a chuckle and a shake of the head.

While it would be helpful to read Gatekeeper first for background character identification, it's not vital to enjoying The Leaving. The joy is in the present, not the past.

Oh, and if you are, like I am, an unabashed Anglophile, you'll get even more out of the matchless repartee between Anna and Eddie. Cheers to Ms. Crews for quite a lovely read.

Bruce Judisch, a Senior Information Operations Analyst for the Joint Information Operations Warfare Center is the author of three novels—The Journey Begun, The Word Fulfilled, and Katia (OakTara). www.brucejudisch.com

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