Sophies Heart by Lori Wick, will make you laugh and cry and think.
Although it is the story of a romance, to pigeonhole it there would be
a real tragedy, because in so many ways, it is also the story of healing,
and friendship, and Gods love.
Sophie Velikonja is a Czech immigrant with a rather poor grasp of the
English language, which belies her incredible intelligence. She comes
to the Riley household as housekeeper, where her employer, Alec, has several
doubts of her intellect and her ability to keep a clean house, not to
mention get along with his three children. His family is also in the middle
of grieving the loss of their mother ten months earlier, and each member
is at a different place with that.
Wick handles the topic of Vanessa Rileys death with great delicacy
and reality. As believers, the family struggles to come to grips with
this tragedy in their own hearts, and also manage to help one another
as best they can. The children, Rita, Craig and Tory, are 17, 12, and
9, respectively, and the author seems to have done her research into how
young people who have a relationship with Jesus might handle something
like this. There are times when their anger or frustrations come bursting
out, but they each know the truth: that God is in control, and that He
loves them dearly. Even Alec, who we see at the beginning trying to bury
himself in his work, hears the voice of the Lord tell him that his children
are suffering from his time away from home, and changes his lifestyle
to care for them.
Into this, comes Sophie, whose gentleness and wisdom bring healing to
their home. She is not perfect, however, and in that, she too must learn
to submit herself to the Lord yet again, and be changed. When Alec changes
her schedule for her, she struggles with her anger, and ends up having
to ask God to forgive her for her wrong heart attitudes.
All in all, this is a simple book. The plot is rather straight forward.
But then, Wick brings it to life, and like so many real lives, there are
complications. For example, while the family tries to move on after Vanessas
death, there is still the matter of Vanessas mother to deal with,
a woman who does not believe that Sophie is necessary to the peace of
the house. When she confronts Alec about this, he tells her calmly, and
with authority, that it is his family who is concerned, and if she doesnt
like Sophie, she can leave. Meanwhile, the romance between Alec and Sophie
is rather unique, in that it is not only fueled by their growing attraction
for one another, but also by their joint desire to hear the Lords
voice on where their relationship should go, and how to care for the children
in the midst of it. This is typical of the whole story. Each choice and
event affects nearly everyone in the book, and those affects are actually
shown and worked through.
Thats why this was such a wonderful novel to read. There were no
dramatic characters, ones that were larger than life. You wont find
any ravishing beauties or sulking heroes here. Instead, you will see the
quiet tale of a widower and his family whose trust in God leads them to
a young woman who helps them overcome their pain, and who in turn is herself
healed of wounds.