Context: Wandered through the River Kior a number of times while reading this.
Subtitled “A Story of Tragedy and Forgiveness” this is about the lives of Grace and her husband Edmund who were missionaries in Papua New Guinea and spent many years of their lives living in Ukarumpa where we’ll be going at the end of next week to live for a couple of years. [Actually since I wrote this review, we have moved up to Ukarumpa and, unpacking some towels from a cupboard in a house we’re renting, we discovered that they had “Fabian” written on them – now that’s bizarre!]
As I read this, I couldn’t help wishing that it was, as the subtitle says, a story of tragedy and forgiveness. That finding her husband with an axe through his skull is tragic, there is no doubt. That she struggled to forgive is, at times, very apparent. But for the most part, this is her story of life as a missionary and I found myself wading through pages of background info (e.g. Edmund’s mother fleeing from the Russians in Poland) just to try to continue with the axe murder mystery that takes place on p3.
Because of the structure of the book, the tragedy made almost no impact on me. If I’d followed their lives and come to know them over a hundred pages of prose, perhaps I could have felt some of the impact. As it was, it felt unreal. In fairness, I suppose this is exactly how she must have felt at the time I guess.
And there’s a certain culture that I’m scared of that this book is seeped in. I guess that’s Grace’s background and that mine is different, but it puts me off too for some reason I can’t quite put my finger on. It seems that I won’t ever measure up to this kind of spirituality. Her spirituality is strong and that’s great, but the way this is written makes me feel like mine would never be good enough and that if my kids didn’t all turn out as mission or NGO workers themselves, I’d have somehow failed. Hmmmm…