July 1, 2013

Fresh from the Bookshelf: The Gospel According to Les Miserables (Book Review)

"Few stories have captured readers hearts like Les Miserables. Popular as a book, musical and movie, the themes contrast complicated characters and themes. Though audiences have enjoyed the timeless story, the Christian themes are often missed...." 
So reads the back cover of The Gospel According to Les Miserables: 30 Devotions to Inspire Faith by Selena Sarns. 

I adore Les Miserables. I've read the thick epic (it's LONNNNG) and have seen it performed LIVE as a musical (amazing!) as well as watching it in movie form...once as a drama with Liam Neeson (excellent!) as Jean Valjean and the most recent movie musical with Hugh Jackman (brilliantly put together--the movie, not [just] the man. LOL). When I saw this book in the list for book reviews, I thought it would be something I would enjoy.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from BookSneeze as part of their book review bloggers program. All opinions expressed are my own and I was not required to write a positive review. 

I chose to read and review this book because not only am I incredibly familiar with this timeless classic but I was intrigued to see how the author would connect the characters and events to the Bible and gospel lessons. 

This is a very simple devotional--easy for a teenager or adult to incorporate into their daily devotional/bible study time. Each day is just 2 pages long. Every day's reading begins with an applicable scripture and then makes a connection to either a character, setting or event from the story. There are connections to each of the primary characters (Valjean, Javert, Fantine, ect) as well as historical or plot connections. The simplistic nature of the devotionals allows for a lot of added study for the reader...or just easy and quick passages for meditation.

An example from the book is as follows...
***
Day/Reading 21 "The Greatest Sacrifice" (p.65-66)

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

John 15:13
 The passage then begins by discussing the event from the book to go with this (when Eponine takes a bullet meant for the man she loves Marius and dies for him) and then makes the gospel connection to that of Jesus Christ and how He willingly shed His blood for mankind.

***
That should give you an idea of how each section is laid out.

Now, just as I found the simplicity of the devotional to be a good thing, it was also a con. When I got the book I was hoping for more than just a tidbit for each day. I felt each devotional could have been more meaty.

Another thing which I didn't like was that there seemed to be repetition among the readings. There really wasn't a branching out to analyze more than maybe one aspect of each character or event...and then it seemed to re-work the same theme for one or two more devotionals later in the book. Or it took the same events and just matched them to something else rather then pick new events/characters. So it felt repetitive, even some of the wording was the same.

All-in-all I would give The Gospel According to Les Miserables: 30 Devotions to Inspire Faith 2 out of 5 stars because I think the author could really have made this book into an in-depth devotional with 30 completely different applications rather than the "easy reader" it was.

However---if you want more of a guide/overview rather than something that really makes you dig in to study, then you would most like find this book very useful.