I love browsing bookshelves and looking for books, titles, and covers that catch my eye. I have never been one to look at bestseller lists and since I am slightly new to the book-blogging world, I never thought that was an option in the past.
Visits to the bookstore have always been a huge ordeal for me. I generally walk into a bookstore knowing that I will spend the better part of an hour just wandering around and touching books. I like to ignore displays unless they are well done or a title catches my eye. Instead, I look up and down every shelf to see if something new jumps out at me and screams "read me!"
(I do have to admit that since starting my project, I have only been in a bookstore a handful of times. I really, really miss buying and collecting books, but I am trying to limit what I get that is not on my list, unless it is something I am really looking forward to).
A couple of years ago, I was on just such a trip. I had some extra money in my pocket and "nothing to read." So, I ran to the nearest B & N and spent a long time searching. I remember this trip because of the mammoth amount of things I bought. But I really member buying one book in particular: The Book of Joby by Mark Ferrari.
It was a huge brick of a book. I mean, unless I know the author I usually don't drop the big bucks on a book and author I have never heard of, but I was intrigued. I liked the simplicity of the cover, and the biblical reference. I took a chance and it ended up being one of my favorite books that year (2008).
Lucifer and God decide to make another wager, as is habit with them. Lucifer bets God that he can turn any mortal away from God by the time the mortal turns 40. God is not allowed to interfere, along with his angels, unless the mortal asks for their help specifically. Lucifer is allowed to use all of his demons and powers to harm the mortal. God, however, is allowed only to pick the mortal and then step back.
God settles on Joby, a 9-year-old boy with a promising future. He is active and loving, with great parents and friends. Joby loves stories about King Arthur and starts his own roundtable with his friends. Joby is a normal little boy with a zest for life and love.
Enter the wager.
Joby's life turns upside down as he begins to battle with demons (seen and unseen). As his life falls apart and he grows up, it seems as if Joby is beginning to lose faith. But this is where the power of Ferrari's writing kicks in. He explores the depths of faith and human nature in the context of so much evil.
At the end of this 640 page book, I was in love with the world Ferrari created. Joby was the perfect character in that he knew the limitations of his humanity and even when he hated himself the most, he still pushed forward. It was a book that stuck with me long after I closed the book cover and one that I do not recommend enough.
It is well-written and a beautifully composed fantasy epic that truly touches on the feelings we all have about ourselves and our lives. It is a book that I am sure I will read again and again when I feel down to remind myself about the hope of the human spirit and what we can all accomplish if we just believe.