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Friday, November 22, 2013

The Point (book review)

The Point:  The Redemption of Oban Ironbout
by William E. Jefferson
Paper, 208 pages
© 2013 by Port Estillyen Productions
published by Port Estillyen Productions
ISBN  978-0-9856621-2-7

Reviewed November 2013

The blurb on the back of this edition claims reminders of Bunyan, Lewis, Donne, and Milton.  While it is easy to scoff at such lofty aspirations, as I did, this claim is not far off the mark.  One could even argue that there is a bit of Tolkein mixed with the author’s own sense of story-telling.  This is truly allegory, it is a quest story, it used Scripture as a basis for relaying truth and conflict, it shows good versus evil.  In short, it has all the elements of a classic and only time will tell if it lives up to that aspiration.  The protagonists are human – probably, though not certainly –  and the interactions are plausible, just as one might expect from Lewis.  The use of allegory is more subtle than Bunyan but just as memorable.  The Readings are a retelling of important Biblical truth as we might have seen from Donne or Milton.  The wordcraft is powerful and reflects the author’s formal education in theology, media, and communications.

The story takes us to Estillyen, the still place where time seems to have returned to a simpler age, though we are not completely certain when that age would have been – or even if it would have been an earthly place.  In the best story-telling fashion, not all the elements that the reader needs are revealed immediately.  Indeed, some are never revealed.  We discover the story as the protagonists do.  As the protagonists do, we also want to explore and learn more.  We are drawn into the lives of Hollie and Goodwin from the first page.  We want to know more about them, what the story is, who are these people they meet, what circumstances really led them to seek refuge on Estillyen.  They are likeable and we develop a strong empathy toward them, just as the residents of Estillyen do.

There is also a bit of a morality tale here.  Indeed, there is a message that we are to be stewards of what we have been given.  The simple place Hollie and Goodwin  are visiting shows the young couple what is wrong with much of the world they left behind.  The people on Estillyen have adopted a simpler, more spiritual, healthier way of living.  Hollie tells us that the “world needs more people like this, focused on the spiritual side of who we are, why we exist.  They’re so completely on target about that.  Gadgets and stuff can so easily define us, pushing us onto one treadmill after another.”  Part of her frustration may be born from the disease she is fighting but there is a perspective for all of us here.

If the reader is looking to pick up a story for superficial reading, this books could serve that purpose.  However, there is so much more here that reading without thinking would be a waste.  This is a book to be read, savored, enjoyed, and used as a source of meditation and reflection.  We can only hope that there will be sequels.

Disclosure of Material Connection: This book was received for free from the publisher for the purpose of review but a positive review was not required. The opinions expressed are those of the reviewer. This disclosure is in accordance with the United States Federal Trade Commission’s “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising” 16 CFR, Part 255.

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