“Anticipation of the Penitent” by Nancy LaRonda Johnson
(spoilers ahead, read at your own risk)
I really didn’t know what to expect coming in on this book. I had read the blurb about it on GoodReads and was intrigued, and decided to give it a read, figuring, “Hey, why not?” But when the book started with a woman deformed and blind, I was hooked instantly. I had to find out if this was something from the Middle Ages, or something from back in Biblical times, when they would parade out a demon-possessed woman to “tell fortunes” (Acts 16:16) “As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling.”
But, instead, the story shifts back in time, and we see Azalea being visited by a being, and her son Thomas having to find a sacrifice for atonement for the being. Fortunately for the reader, there is never anything graphic in any of the descriptions, or the book may have been over the top with the violence and gore. You see, Azalea has been visited by the devil, and Thomas been the end result of the visitation, or so she thought. And with the initial visitation in the book, the story begins its rocky journey towards redemption.
Azalea is the first to try to escape the clutches of her imprisonment, taking Thomas off to a commune like town called Gabriel, where she finds God, but in the process loses her son and her body. Remember the deformed lady? Yea, that was her. After Thomas tries to kill another girl, and fails, Azalea tries to take her own life in the ultimate sacrifice, much like Christ did for the church. She blinds herself, breaks both her legs to the point where they have to be amputated, and messes up a hand to where it also needs to be amputated as well. But, she survives, and Thomas runs off, in her mind lost forever.
For most readers, they would shut the book and not want to read any more…. But not me. I pressed on, desiring to see what the end result of Thomas would be.
He finds one of Azalea’s cousin’s and they “fall in love” or lust, or whatever you wish to call it. The two run off and end up getting married and having a child. In the process, Thomas falls into his old ways and ends up killing two people, one of which he intended to, one who just got in the way. The cousin finds Jesus and begins to pray for Thomas, and he ends up finding peace in the end. I will not give away the ending, because there is a definite twist that I did not see coming, but I was crying at the end of the book.
This is a very well written book that I would recommend to anyone that says that they are too far gone to come back to God. It was very hard to put down each time I picked it up. I definitely count myself blessed to have read this book.
Overall rating: 4.75/ 5.00 stars.
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As always, be kind, please rewind, and remember two wrongs may not make a right, but three rights always make a left.