Happy Monday, Everyone! Guess what? It’s another Belle Book Club Week! The maternity ward at BelleView is harboring more than one Book Baby in February, and so this week, we’re gathered on the porch again. We’re talking about Belle Tuesday, Beth Webb Hart’s, latest treasure, Moon Over Edisto.
We’re so glad you’re here to join in! This week, we’ll be giving away a copy of Moon Over Edisto EACH DAY, so be sure to leave your answer to the Question Of the Day in the comments, to enter!
Having read an early copy, I can already tell you that the winners are in for a treat, but even if you don’t win a copy this week, you shouldn’t miss Moon Over Edisto. I’m thrilled to be starting the discussion this week.
The best books not only entertain us and take us to incredible, interesting places, they cause us to think, to wonder, to question. Moon Over Edisto fits the bill on both scores. Like all of Beth’s writing, it’s filled with beautiful word-pictures and Low Country settings that draw you in until you can smell the salt air and feel the pluff mud seeping around your feet.
But there’s more to the story than just pretty pictures. Beth’s book was inspired by a question. What would be the hardest thing for you to forgive another person for? What would it take to persuade you to forgive the unforgivable?
It’s a worthy question — one that digs down to the very meat and marrow of life. Before I delve into it, I should probably begin by saying that I completely forgive Beth Webb Hart for keeping me up late and causing me to read like a banshee for a couple days straight, wondering what would happen as Julia returns home to beautiful Edisto Island, South Carolina. There’s no beauty there for Julia, who has made a good life for herself in New York and left her difficult family past behind. The last thing she wants to do is return home to deal with the one person she’s been running from since college. To face the unforgivable, in the form of the long-ago best friend who stole Julia’s father, tore apart Julia’s family, and birthed the half brothers and sisters Julia has never known.
I won’t tell you what happens in the story, so as not to spoil the journey for you if you haven’t yet read it. But I will tell you that it is an experience not to be missed. The beauty of the setting contrasts with a family story that is raw, compelling, and poignant.
Beneath the story, as in any good story, lies not only the larger question of forgiveness, but one that’s a bit more personal. One that hits me where I live. Is there something in my own life like this? Are there things I am clinging to and won’t let go of?
There’s nothing of the magnitude Julia faces in the story, to be sure. But I probe the question a little, whittle it down to size. What things do I bring up over and over again when conversations turn to gripes about the actions of other people? What experiences do I recount to display my wounds, to gather a nod of the head, a sympathetic “I hear you.” or “I would’ve done the same thing.” or the coveted, “You’re in the right. You should be mad. I don’t blame you a bit.”
It’s not the most comfortable thing to think about. Because if there are things (and when I think about it I know there are) that I returned to time and time again, doesn’t that mean I have not released them into the ocean of forgiveness and let them float away? Doesn’t that mean that a part of me is still swimming in the same little tidepool, trapped in stagnant water?
And that, beyond just entertainment and beautiful writing, is the more lasting value of Beth’s newest offering. There is value in all stories that take us down the most difficult paths in life. When we live it through the mind and heart of a character, we realize that it is possible, not only for fictional people, but for all of us. And when it feels so good in fiction, perhaps we think, It’s my time, now. It’s time to let go.
Maybe the things that wait for Julia, if only she can let go of the wrong that’s been done – A new life, renewed relationships, mercy, grace, and love — wait for all of us. They are all the best things in this imperfect, human world. The things God wants most for us.
In the end, for me, this is a test of a great story. It leaves me wiser and better off than it found me.
Moon over Edisto is, truly, a great story.