Friday, June 6, 2014

Tobit's Dog: A Book Review

At the beginning of 2014, I decided to set the goal of 25 books to have completed by the end of the year. I say completed because I suffer from what my husband affectionately refers to as 'shiny ball syndrome.' In other words, I am easily distracted like a dog who is focused on something, only to catch a glimpse of a ball out of the corner of her eye and chase the ball, completely forgetting about the last object of interest. I love reading and keep track of my book collection and progress using the website Goodreads. Goodreads reminds me today that I am currently reading three books at the same time, down from four due to a late-night finish of a novel yesterday. It takes a REALLY good book to keep my interest and Tobit's Dog is that book.

Tobit's Dog

Tobit Messager is a black man living in the U.S. south during the Great Depression. As if being poor and struggling to care for his family were not enough, he had to face the many horrors of persecution so common during that dark time in our history. Due to nothing other than the color of his skin, Tobit was treated like a pariah.As a Catholic, he was unable to attend Mass because of the great distance between churches in an area where Protestantism was commonplace. Though unable to be part of the larger Catholic community, Tobit kept the faith alive and never gave into despair. In the novel, he faces unbelievable hardships, yet he never succumbs. Always doing the right thing, even when doing wrong would be easier and less painful to him and his family, Tobit chooses a path of charity and honor. The dog? Okra is a mutt who was discarded along with his littermates. Like Tobit, he is always faithful and can be relied upon in the most dire of circumstances. The rest of the characters in the book are well fleshed-out. Some characters you fall in love with; others you can't help hoping that God will mete out His punishment - now. 

This novel is a message of charity in the face of hatred; trusting in God's will despite being thrust into the the worst situations imaginable. This is not a light-hearted read, so if you are looking for a fluffy inspirational story, this book is not it. The horrors that people like Tobit faced are on full display in all of their ugliness. Violence within the storyline plays a vital role, and it is within those gut-wrenching moments that I found tears streaming down my cheeks. I was touched to the core by the strength and honor of the main characters in the book. Tobit never considers himself a victim, a trait that often appears to be non-existent today. 

Delightfully written, Tobit's Dog is the rare book that left an indelible stamp on my heart. The descriptions of people, settings, and situations paint just enough in your mind. I felt like I was right there with the Messagers as they faced life, though the book is never heavily weighed down with unnecessary words. There are clear Catholic undertones throughout the book, yet never preachy, and is equally approachable for people of any background. My only suggestion (after you get your hands on this book!) is that if you don't remember much about the book of Tobit in Sacred Scripture, read it AFTER you read Tobit's Dog.

*If you are interested in a book club study/discussion guide, there is one available HERE

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I found the book enjoyable, as well as, it helped me to remember the dark times in our Country's history. A time when there was a definite divide between both the Black's and White's, as well as, the Have's and Have Not's with the United States. Remebering past history is important as it helps to do our part to prevent recurrence.

I grew up outside the geographicl area depicted in this book, so I found some of the atrocities disturbing.

I agree that following completion of your read you really should read the book of Tobit within the Bible. Both read back to back really gives you a great reflection of God's love for us and his expectation of our actions on earth and how we should be conducting ourselves in service to the Lord God.