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Reviewed by Philip Van Heusen for Readers' Favorite
Poetry is the window to the soul and the words of the heart. Poetry says so much more than mere words on paper. Poems express the inexpressible. They share the unsharable. By Fire by Rhonda Harris Slota tells of life in a poor, fundamentalist family. She is open about the struggles, abuse, and deaths they faced. Rhonda reveals the pain of what goes on behind closed doors at the preacher’s house. These poems do not speak for all preachers and their families, but what Rhonda describes happens more than you may think. Even preachers have deep, dark secrets. Rhonda writes as if she experienced this life. There are hints of joy as well as shadows of pain. Evil seems to lurk in the shadows.
The one thing that is the same for everyone on earth is that life changes. During each stage of life, there are differences. So, to really know someone, you need to know their life story. Rhonda Harris Slota understands this truism, and in By Fire, she tells a young woman’s story from before she was born until her dad died. Each stage of life—birth, childhood, teen, and young adult—has its own challenges. One’s understanding of life and what is going on changes according to maturity. While this young woman did not see her dad’s love, and he did not say, “I love you,” deep down, she knew she was loved by him. Maturity allows us to see life in a new and different light. This collection is filled with emotion. I recommend this book as an insight into rural pastoral life.