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Reviewed by Ruffina Oserio for Readers' Favorite
When I pick up a novel, the first thing I look for is how well the author develops motivation in the protagonist. The central question is: what drives the protagonist and how does the author allow it to move the plot forward? In The Book of Joy: A Christian Novel That Was Too Real for Christian Publishers to Publish, Monique and Robert Jesiolowski explore motivation in a very skillful way, creating a powerful female protagonist in Joy Dubois, a character that is as deeply flawed as she is compelling. Her relationship with Carson has come to mean the whole world to her, a world that gave her stability and happiness through every moment she’d spent with him, including their first dance and the time spent with his grandma. Then she experienced betrayal and it was very painful remembering him and accepting that he loved another woman. It is the crisis point that makes her question everything she’d believed in, especially her trust in God who allowed such a fate.
The novel follows Joy Dubois as she moves to a different town in an effort to heal her heart and to rebuild her life. The encounters with other people and her shift in perspective are some of the elements that make her mature, and her understanding of God goes through a new kind of paradigm shift. This is a very inspirational story that explores strong religious themes. The authors explore how betrayal in love can lead people to blame themselves and to lose their self-worth. Joy’s journey is a faith-deepening one, faith in who she is and in God, one that is forged in the crucible of pain and through her contact with survivors. The Book of Joy is filled with pathos and while entertaining readers it offers a lot of material for thought and reflection. It is intelligently plotted, cleverly written, and filled with powerful insights. I loved the exquisite prose, the unique way in which the authors explore the thoughts of the protagonist, and the deft handling of the psychological conflict that dominates the entire narrative.