Sunday, January 24, 2010

THICKER THAN BLOOD--It All Comes Back to Relationships

Today is the last day of a week long blog tour for C. J. Darlington's award-winning novel Thicker Than Blood, and I found myself still thinking about the book. In particular, I've been thinking about the themes, the spiritual content, the major issues and just what it is that appeals to me. By and large, it seems to come around to relationships.  The more I ruminated, the more I realized that it's all about relationships--various and sundry relationships--and God's way of running them.

In the review posted earlier I dealt with other, more exciting matters, but I also brought up this issue a bit. How could I ignore it with that title? In most novels, authors tend to gravitate to the easiest relationship to write about, a romantic or dating relationship. C. J. starts her story with one of these, but it doesn't lead to the usual path. In fact, Christy's unhealthy relationship with Vince serves as a cautionary tale: this is NOT God's will for your life! While there are some undertones of other possible romantic interests, I applaud the author's decision to steer away from the easy and often-trod trail, instead focusing on other types of relationships.

What relationships? Let's start with the less obvious.First, there are right and wrong examples of how an employer-employee relationship should be. Vince and his employer = wrong. Vince is a cheating, lying person with no loyalty to his boss. The hired hand at the ranch and May and her partner = a healthy business relationship. He takes nothing from them beyond his wage, shows proper respect and gives much more than a minimum amount of work. Christy has some from both sides, but she wants to be a good and trustworthy employee. In her we see the struggle. Relationship two: partnership. May and Ruth have a healthy partnership at the ranch, based on God's principles. It doesn't mean that they have no problems, but their consciences are clear and they know God will meet their needs one way or another. Some of the practices of certain booksellers contrast with them. Third is friendship, mainly represented by May and the vet. This is an example of "a friend who sticks closer than a brother," er, sister (Proverbs 18:24).

Then there are the blood relationships. Vince and his father had a very unhealthy relationship; the bookstore owner and his son are strained (the father prefers Vince's company to his loyal son). May grew up with her aunt in a very loving relationship in a house where God was honored. Before they died, Christy and May's parents provided a loving home for the girls, although there were some problems. And of course, the big one is the relationship between Christy and May. May has yearned for a reconnection to her sister, never understanding why she had abandoned her. Christy just knows that something is missing.

Of course the biggest relationship is the one that gave rise to the title. What could be thicker than blood? A relationship with God, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This is the relationship that can turn all others right. If a person seeks God first, all else shall be added. Now, this novel doesn't suggest that once a person turns her life over to Christ all her troubles disappear. No, it is obvious that the trials and struggles are still there, even worse sometimes. But following God's path is the only way to get all the relationships straight. Blood means a lot, but Jesus' blood means everything.

You can read the first chapter here.

For more about C. J. Darlington and her writing, check out her website.

 Thicker Than Blood is available at many Christian and regular bookstores. Online, you can purchase it from Christianbook, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon.

Paperback: 400 pages

Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers (Dec. 3, 2009)
ISBN-10: 1414334486
ISBN-13: 978-1414334486 

My thanks to Tyndale House for sending me a review copy of Thicker Than Blood. My opinions and thoughts are my own and not influenced by anyone else.


C.J. Darlington said...

This is one of the most poignant and thoughtful looks at the book I've seen. Thank you so much. I really enjoyed reading your post.

cathikin said...

Thank you for reponding. It makes me feel more certain of having understood you rightly.