Grace A. Johnson
Review: Between the Wild Branches by Connilyn Cossette
#1 This is a long review, so pull up a chair and grab a bowl of popcorn. You’ll be here awhile. #2 When I read a review, I want substantial information. So I will not skimp on the details. Which may mean some spoilers, so watch out.
I don’t know if you noticed, but, uh, I’m not doing my usual thing. As in the star rating, short summary, and favorite quote thing that I do for ARCs. Yeah...it’s just...this book. I can’t. I can’t give it a star rating because my rating is off the spectrum. I can’t give you a synopsis because it’d come out way too gushy. I can’t even pick a favorite quote because every single word in this book was like peach ice cream—aka, heavenly.
So why am I here writing a review when it’s basically futile?
Because I’m like technically supposed to and stuff, so it may seem like I’m being forced to collect my thoughts and still my racing heart against my will.
I mean, I don’t guess they can force me to write a review...but I know I should. Not just because I got an ARC of this book but because IT DESERVES IT.
Actually, it deserves more than my crappy attempt at a review, but I’ll give it my best.
Too late for that. Already gave the thing my heart.
Technically, Lukio has my heart, but that’s not the point. Oh, wait. It is.
So, yeah. If you want a detailed, slightly less obsessive review on all the technical aspects of Cossette’s writing, her storytelling abilities, and how well she weaves biblical events and Scripture with her own imagination, I suggest reading my review of To Dwell among Cedars.
Because I’m not doing that here.
Okay, okay, I’ll give you a little bit.
Cossette wrote this book really well and I enjoyed reading it and it’s good and stuff and like anyone would like this because it’s pretty good and blah. Blah. Blah.
WHAT MATTERS IS WHAT I FEEL, NOT ALL THIS BORING FACTUAL MUMBO-JUMBO.
I LOVE THIS BOOK.
I LOVE LUKIO. GOSH, I LOVE HIS GUTS. (Okay, that’s gross. But basically true.)
I LOVE MARIADA.
I LOVE SHOSHANA. (Y’all are gonna find this hard to believe, but I didn’t like her as much as I adored Lukio. Shocker, I know.)
I LOVE JARU AND ZIEV AND GALIT AND YONAH AND ALL THE OTHER PRECIOUS PEOPLES.
I LOVE THE TWISTS. OH MY WORD AT THE TWISTS!
AND THE ENDING.
T H A T E N D I N G.
I WANT AN ENDING LIKE THAT.
Well, there are my feelings for you. They’re, uh, they’re pretty strong, don’t you think? Anyway, I think I can expound upon those a little more, don’t y’all? I’m pretty good at that, you know. Expounding. Making things more complicated than they really are.
Coming into this book, I was scared out of my wits. The ending of To Dwell among Cedars left us all on the edge of our seats, dying to know what happens to Lukio as time goes on. I mean, the kid left for Ashdod, ran into his whacked-out cousin, and became a brutal fighter. It’s really hard to expect good, happy, whimsical things when that’s the beginning of your story.
So of course I was terrified that Lukio was going to be really hard and bitter (like, even worse than he already was), have thirty-five concubines, visit the shrine every day, have eighteen illegitimate young’uns and sacrifice half of them, and just be a thoroughly vile person. What, after all, can you expect from a Philistine?
Not to mention that finding out Shoshana was sold into slavery got me really worried. The last things I wanted were (a) for the story to be full of flashbacks to all of the trials and abuse (or full of new trials and abuse) that she had to endure and (b) for Shoshana to have turned into a weak, pathetic whiny. I mean, after all she went through, I wouldn’t blame her for whining, but I prefer to read about heroines who persevere, trust in God, and are optimistic. Maybe that’s asking for a Disney princess instead of a realistic person, but c’mon, guys. Admit it. There is nothing more inspiring than reading about people who surrender to God, have faith in His promises, and push through adversity with their head held high.
But all of this is entirely beside the point. Why?
Because Cossette completely assuaged all of my fears!
Lukio was, yeah, hard and bitter, but he was also still a tender little boy on the inside! Like, his love for animals and the downtrodden and little munchkins like he used to be MELTED MY HEART. And the way he was so concerned for Shoshana, even after she told him that they were nothing but strangers?
MY HEART SHATTERED, YOU GUYS.
LUKIO IS SO PRECIOUS.
(Not to mention he really reminded me of one of my own characters, which just gave me serious warm fuzzies. It’s a writer thing.)
And then Shoshana was so strong, but not at all a feminist. I mean, I had a hard time connecting with her (too busy connecting with Lukio, I reckon), but she was never annoying or excessive in any manner. I just felt sympathy for her and was so proud of her for being tough and helping others.
Y’ALL. I know in my heart that I can’t spoil things for you, BUT MARIADA. Just but Mariada, because that’s really all I can say. I was, again, terrified that I would hate her character and she’d be just other source of conflict and whatnot, BUT NO. SHE WAS PERFECT.
To be honest, I liked her more than Shoshana. Not to mention she really, really needs a story of her own. (Please, Mrs. Cossette, please! Give Mariada a happily ever after! She deserves it!)
Then there was Jaru and my precious baby Ziev and ALL THE TWISTS. GUYS, COSSETTE THREW ME FOR A LOOP!
Seriously, it doesn’t get any better. It just doesn’t.
Except for one thing: the ending.
From the reunion…
To the way Lukio—ahem, Natan—stepped out in faith…
TO THE WEDDING. (Or, well, lack of...)
THE ENDING WAS THE MOST PERFECTEST ENDING IN THE HISTORY OF ENDINGS. (And that’s improper English. Do I care? Nope. Not in the least.)
I, no lie, want an ending just. like. that. (So, uh, if my future husband is reading this, take some pointers from Lukio. Please and thank you.)
So, um, yeah. I think there are more things I could say...no, I know there are...but I just can’t. Sorry, you guys, but y’all are just gonna have to be satisfied with this nonsensical, gushy word vomit.
Yeah, I’m pretty sure this was not what the publisher meant by a “review.” Oh, well. Would it help if I suggested you buy the book? You think it would? Okay.
BUY THIS BOOK. YOUR HEART WILL THANK YOU.
Disclaimer: A complimentary copy of this book was provided by the publisher, publicist, or author, including NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.
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About the Author
Connilyn Cossette is a Christy Award and Carol Award winning author whose books have been found on both ECPA and CBA bestseller lists. When she is not engulfed in the happy chaos of homeschooling two teenagers, devouring books whole, or avoiding housework, she can be found digging into the rich ancient world of the Bible to discover gems of grace that point to Jesus and weaving them into an immersive fiction experience. Although she and her husband have lived all over the country in their twenty-plus years of marriage, they currently call a little town south of Dallas, Texas their home. Connect with her at www.ConnilynCossette.com
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