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The Prodigal Son Paperback – May 7, 2016
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"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
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Luke is not the only interesting and likeable character in the novel. The girl he falls in love with is also worth attention. This girl named Sophia becomes Luke’s ticket to a new life. It is amazing how authors frequently match such different characters as Kreitner does in her book. Luke and Sophia would have not met but for his forced stay in his hometown. These two people have almost nothing in common. Luke is withdrawn, work-centered, and rather earthbound. He has a gift of being able to heal people and he has mastered his profession excellently. The fact that Luke is a cardiovascular surgeon and he has to work with a human body is no accident. Luke’s childhood trauma has transformed him into the person who keeps everything to himself and does not want to open to others for fear of being hurt again. He fixes the physical aspect of a human life and tends to forget about the spiritual needs, including his own ones. As far as Sophia is concerned, she an openhearted, kind, and generous girl. She is ready to give love and is not afraid to make mistakes. Sophia’s attitude to life is opposite to what Luke believes in or, at least, what he tries to make himself believe in. Her frankness may even be somewhat childish, yet this is what Luke needs in order to change.
It is both exciting and interesting to follow the rise of this unusual relationship and to see how Sophia helps Luke to accept himself. Kreitner raises a very important issue of self-forgiveness. Luke is very hard to himself at the beginning of the novel. His professional success and financial well-being have not given him what every person is badly in need of – the ability to face one’s flaws, correct them, and forgive oneself for being an imperfect person. In general, doctors are so close to pain and sufferings that it makes them become a bit cold-hearted, otherwise they would have failed to perform their work well due to a high emotional pressure. Luke has an additional factor that influences his inability to open up. He prefers to ignore his painful past instead of facing it and closing this chapter forever. Sophia is Luke’s specific guide in the world, wherein emotions do not have to be negative only and life does not have to be so stressful and soul-destroying. Sophia is literally a saving angel for Luke because her healing influence is directed at the most neglected part of his life – his soul. The only thing that seems to be excessive in Sophia’s character, although many readers might think otherwise, is her beauty. Kreitner made her main female character a visual knockout. She looks stunning, yet the beauty of her soul outweighs everything else anyway. Even if Sophia looked differently, they would still be a very good match because these two characters supplement each other, although it takes some time to see it.
Kreitner’ s choice of death used as a defining moment making Luke leave his normal routine and return to his hometown both literally and figuratively is a widely used literary means. On the contrary, when a person is stuck in his or her everyday activities, and practices the same life philosophy day after day, it is extremely difficult for such a person to take a detached view at his or her life and see it clearly. Some extraordinary event enables people to reevaluate their life and even such a sad occurrence as death of a close person can become a precious opportunity to do something differently. But for a medical talent, Luke is an ordinary person who fails to face his inner demons and lives a self-destructive life. Nothing material can heal psychological damage, especially if a person refuses to acknowledge existing problems. It happens to Luke and it happens to thousands of other people all over the world. This is what makes Kreitner’ s novel so congenial.
“The Prodigal Son” is an excellent choice of the book that leaves a long-term mark and makes the readers think about their own life. Kreitner’ s narration is comprehensible and enjoyable. It neither makes the audience struggle with difficult moral rhetoric nor imposes any specific religious views. While it is fiction, it is interesting to follow Luke in his searches for himself against the background of a typical life characteristic for millions of other modern people. The book is both entertaining and didactic. Yet, the latter does not spoil the former.
The characters in this book came to life for me. I loved how real it all felt, the fact that none of the characters were perfect and that made them more real, more… understandable? I couldn’t put the book down once I’d met Luke’s family. I felt like I could see the town, like I’d met the people there before. It was so… natural and comfortable, a story that sucked me in. I enjoyed the unusual nature of the spiritual aspect that I wasn’t expecting. That was a breath of fresh air for me!
I finished the book and found myself wanting another book to know what happened next, not only to Luke, but also Elizabeth. I was pulled into this family and wanted more of their story. I would even like a prequel story of Luke’s parents story. Maybe I read too many series-type books. I want to know it all!