The summer of 2020 will go down in history marked by disappointing vacation adjustments, angst over schooling arrangements in the fall, and violence and unrest on so many fronts we’re beginning to lose track. I wonder what story you are living, what uncelebrated milestones you have passed, or what ungathered grieving you have walked alone.
As you live your unique story, be sure that you name the losses, for, in giving them a name, they lose their power to control you. They become part of your story and, therefore, part of your offering to God.
These Nameless Things is a powerful and startling work of fiction that imagines a world where the past with all its stories has been (temporarily) forgotten. Even so, it has not lost its power over the people who lived it, and author, Shawn Smucker has woven a tale of magical realism in which Dan, having escaped a place of tortured confinement, cannot feel free as long as his twin brother is still held captive.
The reader is invited into Dan’s wrestling to explore significant themes and to ask wrenching questions:
- Whom do our memories belong to?
- Do the stories of others have the power to change us?
- Can we fix the broken past–even if we did not do the breaking?
- Is forgiveness the only path to freedom?
- Why do our secrets hold so much power over us?
Smucker employs two devices of traditional allegory, the dream-vision and the journey, in weaving his tale, and I was reminded of C.S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce with its freedom of movement between the spheres and the setting of gloomy Grey Town. The author tips his hat to Dante’s Inferno as well, but my advice to the reader is to enjoy the rich story-telling, unencumbered by excessive concern over its literary or eschatological implications.
I found myself reading with a growing resolve to spend my lifetime becoming the kind of person who will enjoy heaven. Until then, along the way, I may be required to stop in my tracks, to address commitments to family and friends, and to comb through our shared memories. Sometimes, however, I will be spurred forward by those same tangled stories.
Even with implied trauma and a scene or two steeped in hopelessness, the narrative’s forward momentum kept me believing for future grace. Fiction with a redemptive story line shouts, “Even here. Something is happening.”
And a cast of growing characters might just convince a reader that forgiveness and hope can change the course of her own story as well.
Grateful for the wholeness that comes with naming,
Many thanks to Revell for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which, of course, is offered freely and with honesty.
I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees. If you should decide to purchase These Nameless Things or The Great Divorce, simply click on the title, and you’ll be taken directly to Amazon. If you decide to buy, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.
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