The Blackberry Bush was a surprise…because I had never read anything that Dave had written in any length before (except his blog posts, which at times…), I had no preconceived notions or expectations. Having read his enthusiastic anticipation of the book’s release, I knew a bit about what the premise of his novel would be yet that is where any speculation on my part ceased.
The Blackberry Bush is an amazing journey…it is an intentionally relational book…it is about family, dreams shattered and awakened, struggle with internal as well as external darkness, and hope. In fact, the story’s culmination is satisfying as Dave follows some interesting characters though the decades to a home of healing and love. Because of the intentional character of the book’s familial focus, I found myself thinking and meditating on my own family and what has been handed down to me not primarily via genetics but through the mystery of human experience. The scriptures say a few things about the “sins of the fathers being visited upon the generations”…I’m sure that it is not just our failings but our wounds as well as triumphs that have a tendency to make it outside of the confines of our life span…that alone should give us cause for pause and reflection.
The book is different and that is what made it surprising and delightful. I would regard myself as a bit of a fiction addict especially in specific genres. Yet, this tale is woven carefully and deliberately…it is at one moment a history lesson at the other moment a glimpse into the human heart and spirit. I found Dave’s “angelic” host of the story’s progression to be aspects of the book that I looked forward to and cemented in my mind some of my deeply held beliefs in the “multitude of witnesses” (see Hebrews 12:1) that must have a “front row seat” to the steps of our mortal journeys.
All in all, I would recommend the book for something that would bring a bit of a “shake up” to what might be an otherwise dull summer reading season. Predictable it isn’t…provocative in a sly manner…deeper than you would imagine. Oh, one more thing, I liked the fact that Dave included the questions as well as the interview at the end of the book…that made the conclusion of the story a bit easier to take…truth is, I’d like to hear more about these characters, and if you think about it, isn’t that what good fiction should do in the first place? Bravo Dave…now I’ve got to read your other stuff!