I almost did not read “The Congregation”; I found the first book in this series so disturbing that I felt that it might not be worth my time. My concerns were only partially correct. I found this newest book starring Jake and Amanda Bannon to be less offensive and somewhat positive in its presentation.
The earlier book had so much graphic violence that I had to, at times, put it down and walk away before I could continue. The current book did have violence, but not to the extent that I had to walk away. The current book also avoided the use of unexpected explicit sex - the other fault I had with “The Offering”.
Two themes seemed to be driven home by Ms.
Bombenon in “The Congregation”. The first was the ultimate consequence of abuse - whether from parents to child, spouse to spouse, or church leaders toward congregants under their “care”. Those who are abused are affected by that abuse - and it spreads until someone says, “Stop.” This does not mean people are not hurt, but the abuse does not need to continue being spread.
The other focus of the book is redemption - even the most abuse, the most damaged individuals may have something powerful and positive to offer to those around them. At the same time, abused and hurt individuals may not find redemption. They are so damaged, so wrapped in the life they have created, that they cannot see the good that could come from their lives.
Though wrapped in a package surrounded by religion and the church, the book is not a Christian book. Abuse occurs within the walls of the church; redemption comes not from the church, but in spite of it. That faith is almost totally absent from the story does not mean there is no value within its pages.
The bottom line: read with care. Though the themes are ones with which my followers will be familiar, they are not presented in a typical fashion. If this is done, you, like me, may find value in Desiree Bombenon’s latest work of fiction.
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are my own.