“Come Eat at My Table” by Ruth O’Neil

 Karin Miller has a loving, Christian husband, beautiful twin daughters, and a reputation for feeding everyone who crosses her path.

She also has baggage from her unhappy childhood – baggage she’s resistant to unload.

This book unwinds slowly, but surely – so much so that I didn’t realize how deeply I’d been drawn until the very end.

Day in the Life

The narrative reads more like a biography than a novel – from the book-ending asides by Karin’s daughter Faith, to the way it tells (rather than shows) each person’s personality and motivations, to the omniscient viewpoint that skips from person to person at whim.

It also feels like a biography because of the scene content. Events such as going out to lunch with church friends and planting a garden are mixed with scenes about Faith’s school report on a parent’s childhood (which forces Karin to confront and process through her past).

The whole thing is united, though, because it all ties into Karin’s life – the tension, mystery, and interest from her tragic backstory mingled with the joy and faithfulness of her current life (a life filled with service to others and God).

A Life of Faith

The family’s Christianity is also handled realistically, as Karin reads devotions and Bible passages, prays to be shown what she needs to learn, then says, “Duh,” when the Holy Spirit speaks to her. Anyone who has grown in their Christian walk can probably relate.

Forgiveness is a strong theme in the story. One chapter, we’re sighing at Karin for her bitterness and wondering why she still has PTSD after twenty years…another chapter, we’re so incensed at the injustice done to her as a child that for her to forgive those perpetrators seems almost inconceivable.

And yet, with God, all things are possible.

Professionalism

Overall, the pacing is pretty good. The manuscript could have stood one more sweep for punctuation and malapropisms. One aspect of the childhood abuse seemed melodramatic, but for a book that deals mostly with the everyday doings of everyday Christians, one touch of melodrama is forgivable.

The moral aspects felt much less preachy than in some other indie books I’ve read recently. Perhaps because I was expecting a story about regular lives, relationships, and God – which is exactly what it is.

Coming Full Circle

The through-line of peeling back the past kept me reading, and all the food made me hungry. The “twist” absolutely took me by surprise, the climax and epilogue brought tears to my eyes…

In short, this is not really the kind of book I would pick up on my own, but it took me by surprise. And that’s a good thing.

Because sometimes it’s the books that start slow – that take a while to get into – it’s those books that creep up on us and linger longest in our brains. Sometimes, it’s the people we don’t hit it off with right away, or that take more effort to get along with, that teach us the best lessons or give us the greatest victories.


Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book for participating in the Indie Christian Books Black Friday Sale. I was not required to write a review, positive or otherwise.

Come Eat At My Table is available on Amazon, and as of this writing is free via Kindle Unlimited.

You can find out more about the author here on her website.

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