Book Review: Words

Words by Ginny Yttrup came highly recommended by Quilly, (and maybe one or two others whom I can’t remember) and her review as well as the first few paragraphs she had posted from the book drew me in immediately.

I was going to say this at the end but thought perhaps since some of you might feel the same way that I should say at the beginning that normally I would not pick up a book which has abuse a big factor because it would either make me very angry or very sad (or both), and because some books sensationalize it. But Ginny does not sensationalize: unfortunately she speaks from sad and all too real experience, yet her book is as much about healing as it is abuse.

Ten year old Kaylee has lost her words, her voice: she hasn’t been able to speak since her mom left, abandoning her to the care of the mom’s boyfriend — though you could hardly call it “care.” The boyfriend, Jack, not only neglects to take care of Kaylee, but he does unspeakable things to her. Kaylee stays because she has nowhere else to go, no resources, no help, but also she wants to be there in case her mom comes back. Meanwhile, she takes refuge in a dictionary that belonged to her mother, savoring words and their meanings and storing them up in her mind.

Sierra is a woman in her thirties who cannot forgive herself for a wayward period in her past that caused great pain to her family and the loss of her daughter’s life twelve years earlier. She tries to bury the pain that is too raw to bring to light and expresses herself in her art, but those who love her worry that she’s going to crack if she continues to keep her emotions inside. Though she has amended her ways, she has not returned to the God of her childhood.

God brings Kaylee and Sierra together in their vulnerability and works in and through each of them to bring healing through the Word, Jesus Christ.

It’s hard to believe this is Ginny’s first novel: she does a masterful job not only telling the story in a compelling but not maudlin way but also in layering various subtexts throughout the plot. The book is riveting, hard to put down, eloquent, and full of depth.

I especially appreciated one section in which Sierra realizes that oft-misapplied John 8:32 (“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”) isn’t just referring to telling personal truth, but to the fact that Jesus is the truth that heals and frees us.

This book is one of my favorites read this year, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Here is the book trailer:

And a short interview with the author:

(This review will also be linked to Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books.)

12 thoughts on “Book Review: Words

  1. Ooh. You’re right. This DOESN”T sound like a book I would normally pick up at all. But it doesn’t sound like a book you would necessarily pick up either and so if you recommend it, well then! =) I’ll keep an eye out for it.

  2. I just started this last night. And for a book where the characters don’t communicate, it is beautifully written — poetic even. I am participating in the Christian Fiction Book Club this weekend where we are discussing the Words. It is hosted this month by My Only Vice –

  3. This is an incredible book, isn’t it? I have read so many books featuring abuse that left me feeling abused, dejected and despondent, but this book healed and left me rejoicing in the redemption available to us all.

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