The Point: The Redemption of Oban Ironbout by Wiliam E. Jefferson
This new book by William E. Jefferson entitled The Redemption is a novel about redemption and letting go of the past as well. The story centers around two main character, Hollie and Goodwin who set out on a journey to the Isle of Estillyen, an island that is said to inhabit people who have an uncanny habit of speaking wise words. Goodwin pushes the to go The Point, a house with an old recluse named Oban Ironbout, who has been through the death of his twins and has not been the same since. After the initial pummeling of words and shells on Goodwin, Goodwin is convinced that the sketch he drew from a painting of his family is a key to unlocking the story of Oban.
While I really enjoyed discovering more and more about the life of Oban and the history that unfolds in the story, the readings on the island were a bit forced. I do agree that the twisted words can wreak havoc upon relationships, but biblically speaking its not only the words that matter but a defamation of character that is related to the words. In one section we see Lucifer trying to turn the name of God upside down so that the humans will be deceived. Jefferson writes, “Now take the name I AM. Instead of fleshies saying, ‘I AM,’ teach’em to mutter ‘ain’t I.’ Instead of saying ‘king,’ tell ‘em to mutter ‘sling.’ We can do it! We can do it! Oh, I know we can do it” (68)! I see the display of repeating the style and constancy of the biblical record, but I think the phrases that come out of Lucifer’s mouth are hard to fathom as reasonable for someone to hold onto. The connection between the Screwtape Letters is inevitable here but I think Jefferson focuses at times too much on the right rendering of specific words rather than how they could be displayed in the story.
Overall, I found the book to be a weaving of different storylines along some retellings of Scripture that were very interesting. I was a bit confused about the point of having so many different intersecting plotlines and having to work to see their connections. The real takeaway from the story was walking through the life of Oban Ironbout and seeing Hollie and Goodwin draw out his story. This idea of a man hardened by the crushing blows of death and pain is a real example in our own world. Yet, remembering the past for what joy it brought helped bring Oban back to a sense of reality instead of escaping into a reclusive monastery. This part of the book was a good look into the redemptive work of God in using means, his people to bring about a message of healing.
I think there are some very good parts in this book coupled with a confusing plot. I hope others will be encouraged by the story of Oban and the way both Hollie and Goodwin deal him.
Thanks to Handlebar Publishing for the review copy of this book in exchange for review.