Book Reviews

Book review: This Life

This Life: A Murphy Brothers story book 4

By Jennifer Rodewald

Contemporary Christian romance

About the Book

They’ve been stripped of everything but a refurbished bus and each other. And it may be the best thing that’s ever happened to them.

Jacob Murphy always felt like the invisible brother, until he fell in love with and married the woman who’d dated his younger brother. Then he became the despised brother. Driven to prove himself worthy of respect, he gambled everything on becoming the successful brother, but with his property speculation business falling apart, he’s ready to admit defeat. He’s lost nearly every worldly good, and after years of disappointments and heartache, it looks like his marriage is about to go the same way.

Kate Murphy lied her way out of life in a trailer park—a life she felt both trapped in and ashamed of. Only Jacob knows the truth about her background. But keeping up appearances has strangled her life and relationships, and even her marriage is troubled. In desperation, she makes a plan to escape from it all—ironically, in a skoolie. But there’s still a tender place in her heart for the man she married, and in a moment of compassion, she offers to take Jacob with her.

Stripped of pride and pretension and struggling to adjust to their new 160-square-foot mobile lifestyle, Jacob and Kate are forced to confront the deception, hurt, and loneliness that have plagued them both. Will their strained circumstances be the death knell for their marriage, or will they allow humility to usher in the healing they need to rebuild?

My thoughts

Going through this series, you can clearly detect this contemplative and oft introspective style and voice of Rodewald as she explores the difficult situations these Murphy Brothers face. Jacob was my least favorite of the brothers, and honestly, the rest of the brothers’ stories played into that fact. I’d also gone into this story thinking I would strongly dislike Kate.

But the beauty of a great author is how well they turn your perceptions on your head. I found Kate to be so endearing and completely and utterly misunderstood, which was unfortunately something of Kate’s own purposeful design. It is in fact, she, who gives Jacob a second chance, when he definitely didn’t deserve one.

This story, like most of Rodewald’s, tackles tough, real life situations head on. This was a heartbreaking, yet fascinating tale of how two broken people on the brink of divorce embark on one last ditch effort to save both their marriage and themselves from emotional and financial ruin.

This Life was an extremely thought provoking story. Which are the best kind of stories. They stay with you. Make you question what you thought you knew, or what you thought you believed, or what you thought you would or wouldn’t be capable of doing.

This Life begs the question, can, and should, a family member or spouse who has caused seemingly irreparable damage to others be forgiven?

Jesus absolutely forgives, restores, redeems. And I love writing these same kind of stories of forgiveness, restoration and redemption. But forgiveness, for us, anyway, is hard work. It is daunting and painful and I find myself asking… would I be capable of forgiving Jacob and Kate?

Thank goodness for a great, wonderful God who tosses our sins to the ocean floor and sees us as clean and brand new.

I loved the overall message of this story, as it also explores the question of what really, truly matters in life. How much of the things in our lives do we really need, and how much stuff have we simply just acquired over time? Sometimes it takes being stripped of everything in your life to recognize what’s most important.

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