I finished Home by Marilynne Robinson a couple weeks ago and I'm just now able to talk about it because I've been grieving the fact that I turned the last page. A bit dramatic, I suppose, but then again, how can anyone overstate the way it feels when a book moves you and changes you? There isn't enough hyperbole to do justice to that sensation. And the most amazing thing is that I've felt the same way about each of Robinson's three novels.
It's hard to say exactly why we love a book. It's one thing to enjoy a book, or to like it, but every once in a while we love books. I tend to think that we cross over into loving a book because we feel we know its characters, and John Ames remains very real to me today, years after I read that novel. He feels like an old friend who taught me many lessons. His voice was so authoritative, so vivid, that I will never forget it. Witness my favorite passage:
It may be simple-minded of me to have to read something like that to fully grasp my own definition of holiness, but that's the power of great books. Often our favorite books are shaped by what is happening in our lives. This one came at the right moment, when I needed it the most, when I was on the edge of losing any kind of faith at all. And this passage, somehow, saved me.