Ruthie Turner and her mother have avoided the local church for thirteen years after being shunned for Mrs. Turner’s alleged sins. Everyone in town, besides Ruthie’s cousin JohnScott and her aunt and uncle, ignores Ruthie and her mother until a preacher comes to town and starts paying attention to Ruthie. Between the new preacher and a rapist moving back to the small Texas town, there’s plenty of changes for community and for Ruthie’s family. Ruthie is determined to ignore the preacher’s advances and her cousin’s new interest in the church, working two jobs to pay for college. Despite her efforts, Ruthie finds herself attracted to the handsome preacher and to Jesus whose love could restore her hope in the church and heal the scars etched into her soul so long ago.
Jaded is well-written with relate-able characters, plenty of small town charm, and romance. The themes of Jaded are important to contemplate in the church today; how do we treat our neighbors, and do we embody the love that Jesus taught us to give? Varina Denman explores the deep-seeded hurts of a woman who has been expelled from the church through no fault of her own, and the role Christians played in pushing her away from their community. Ruthie’s story urges the reader to consider how one shows love to fellow Christians and non-Christians, and conversely how one allows disappointments in the church to hold oneself back from participating in the community of the Church.
Though I was able to engage in the characters’ lives and the setting, there were points in the story where the pacing lagged. Ruthie’s attitude toward the people of Trapp, Texas and the Church is imperative to the story, but I wanted to move past Ruthie lamenting her past and see what was going to happen to her next.
As a romantic, I enjoyed seeing the relationship between Ruthie and Dodd develop through the story. However, there were a couple things that seemed too convenient, such as Dodd working at the school with Ruthie while also being a preacher. In a small town, paths are likely to cross at multiple points, but it seemed unlikely to me that Dodd would be able to move into town and secure a position both at the school and the church.
I was confused as to why a small town would hire a man who had no experience in church leadership, especially when they are so tight-knit. It’s more likely that one of the overseers would have stepped into the position rather than letting an outsider in. In addition, there is little talk of Dodd’s role as the pastor of the church. His leadership in the church doesn’t overlap his daily life very often, it even seems as if this isn’t something he aspires to do long term.
The Cons of this novel are minor; Jaded is a great read and it made me stop and ask a some deep, reflective questions. Denman tells a relate-able story of a woman whose past experiences have pushed her away from faith in God, and the pursuing love of God that draws His children back to Him.
You can order a copy of Jaded through David C Cook or check it out at your local library!
Denman, Varina. Jaded: A Novel. Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook, 2015. Print.