Go back to previous topic
Forum nameReading Challenges, 2010
Topic subject38. Joshua by Joseph F. Girzone
Topic URLhttp://www.fmwriters.com/community/dc/dcboard.php?az=show_topic&forum=505&topic_id=6&mesg_id=734
734, 38. Joshua by Joseph F. Girzone
Posted by alissaameth, Fri May-21-10 01:30 PM
Fiction, 273 pages.

I really disliked this book. There were two different levels to it: I hated the writing and I felt uncomfortable with the subject matter.

The subject matter: I read that someone called it a "what-if" scenario: "What if Jesus came back to Earth in human form again?" It is set in the 1980s, in a small village in Georgia. Joshua (the Jesus figure) moves in, and all the small-town people are super-curious about him. He works as a wood-carver, and it soon becomes clear that he is not just a carver. (In fact, someone makes a remark about this in almost every chapter, but that point belongs in the writing paragraph.) Basically, Joshua gets to know the townspeople, captures their hearts and then leaves to take on a big challenge. His role is to get religious leaders (of all churches and denominations, whether Catholic, Jewish or Protestant) to remember what Jesus actually taught. (Hint: he didn't teach that leaders should profit financially from their congregation.) I agree with the idea that not all churches and not all leaders live out Jesus's teachings, but I disagree with Girzone's... I don't know, his way of "taking on" the challenge of writing about Jesus reincarnated? It's hard to explain. I just feel like he doesn't have the writing skill to tackle that and pull it off well. To me, it was melodramatic fiction interspersed with essay-like speeches from Joshua where Girzone vents his thoughts. That's how I took it, anyway. I think he would've been better off writing an essay.

The writing: I read reviews on Amazon.com that praised it for its "simple and profound" writing style, but it fell completely flat for me. All situations where Joshua performed miracles felt contrived: oh look, he's on a boat during a storm. Guess what he does! The characters are all flat and even stereotypical--honestly, if I lived in a small village, I'd be offended by his description of the "simple" "what you see is what you get" people. Similarly, the Jews are always described as more sophisticated. What does that mean? So, not only are people as a whole stereotyped, but the ones that we're introduced to just aren't really people.

The characters aren't my only complaint, but I think they're the most important one because I've enjoyed books I thought were poorly written before--IF they had interesting people that I wanted to know more about. These people were not interesting, including the main character. Aka, the guy who is supposedly Jesus. That should be interesting! My main other complaint about the writing is the repetitiveness. From characters making the same wondering remarks about the mysterious Joshua, to Joshua explaining the same things about churches in two hundred different ways to thirty different people. (I'm exaggerating. I didn't count.)

The only reason I finished it was for the religion aspect: I was curious about Joseph Girzone's idea of what Jesus was like. Now I know that if I want to read about Jesus, I should read the Gospels. :)