Monday, June 1, 2015

Book Review: "The Tomb: A Novel of Martha" by Stephanie Landsem

When I was asked to review Stephanie Landsem's latest, The Tomb: A Novel of Martha, (Howard Books) I was thrilled.  The first thing I'll say is, even though this is part of a series, don't feel like you have to read them in any certain order. I stumbled upon one, then read this one, and have yet to read the first and I honestly don't feel as if I've gained less from the experience because of it. I should have posted this review in March, I just didn't have the words to say what I needed to say (and I'm still not sure I do). Growing up in the church, I thought the story of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus was par for course, but as I talked about this novel while reading it I discovered many people don't know.  That makes this the perfect read for them.  Everyone will relate to one of the characters.  I had always understood Mary more, and maybe it's the season of life I'm in, but I sooooooooo get Martha.  Every time she lamented that "there's much to do" my heart broke a little in understanding.  The desire to do what's "right" and the heavy weight of responsibility that she gets so lost in is incredibly relatable.

The way Landsem weaves her imagination into a story that doesn't have a lot of details is intriguing. I implore you to journey through Martha's journey.  Maybe see her and her siblings through some fresh eyes.  Your new insight may just take your breath away.  I mean how could your life not change after you saw Jesus raise your brother from the dead?  Everything would change, and to explore the possibilities of how she could have been before hand with so little knowledge of her is so intriguing.

Perhaps Martha was not as prim and proper as she seems.  Landsem takes us through the journey of a mistake that perhaps Martha made.  This mistake not only changed Martha's life, but her entire families.  One choice seems to haunt and define her, driving her "need" to do everything by law.  Her mother's death early on first put a huge responsibility on Martha as homemaker and caretaker.  As her father passes on when her brother is not quite a man that only increases these responsibilities along with the desperation of keeping her mistake a secret.  While her secrets eat at her she finds them necessary not only to keep her families standing intact but for survival.  Then Jesus comes.  Martha has that inner war so many of us do.  Will she let Jesus change her, or is there always too much to do?

The Tomb: A Novel of Martha was released March 17, 2015.  What part of the Martha, Mary, Lazarus story do you relate to the most?

This book was provided for review by Howard Books/Stephanie Landsem.  All thoughts are my own.