I read A Song I Knew by Heart by Bret Lott
I'd read a book of his many years ago called Jewel (yes yes yes from Oprah's book club...)which was just lovely so I was excited to find this one on the shelf of the Fairfield Public Library.
The jacket description of A Song I Knew by Heart is as follows:
"And Ruth said, 'Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee; for whiter thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.'" Ruth 1:16
During a cold Massachusetts winter, a man's car fatally skids on black ice, leaving a mother childless and her daughter-in-law a widow. Naomi and Ruth, bound together as kin, are now each other's only comfort. Naomi lost her own husband, Eli, eight years ago, and now she has lost her son.
Watching Ruth struggle through grief, Naomi suddenly realizes what she must do to make herself whole again: She must return to her childhood home in coastal South Caroline. There, she remembers, was the innocence of youth and first falling in love. But when she tells Ruth about her plan, she receives an unexpected reply: "Were you go, I will go. Where you live, that's where I'll live too." So the two women plan the journey together.
The only family Naomi has down South are in-laws, people she hasn't seen in decades, having kept in touch over the years only through annual Christmas cards. But when she phones, apprehensively, to tell them of her plan, they welcome her with openness and warmth. Arriving at a home full of sons and daughters and grandchildren, Naomi and Ruth are flooded with a love they are nearly too fragile to accept.
Yet Naomi carries a deep secret in her soul- and not even this change of scenery can erase its dark shadow. As the long Southern days seep into their hearts, both she and Ruth begin to find themselves reawakened. And as the love of her new found family and her enduring bong with Ruth prove themselves stronger than sin, stronger than heartache, redemption finds Naomi once and for all.
One of the biggest things I took away from this book is how heavy undeserved grace and forgiveness can be when you refuse to accept it and when you feel so brittle from years of holding on to secrets and shame.
It was sad and happy, soft and hard, bitter and sweet at the same time. Very good. It also made me want to go to South Carolina.
Yet this news should have been joy. It should have been joy, this forgiveness.
This should have been joy.
But I did not know what to do with this forgiveness, did not know where to place it, or where to hide from it, or how to hold it.