Monthly Archives: November 2020

The Cold Dish

It happens to the best of us, even those who work in a bookstore— a book series gets picked up for a tv show and that’s what gets my attention for the otherwise unknown-to-me series. In my defense (in all our defenses, really), there’re just too many good books and series to keep on top of.

So, I’d heard of the Walt Longmire series by Craig Johnson when Netflix picked it up, and I’ve seen bits of a few episodes, enough to make me think I might enjoy it. And I recommended it often when I worked at the bookstore. But it wasn’t until this month that I actually decided to read the first book in the series, The Cold Dish.

Walt Longmire is the sheriff in a small Wyoming county, looking forward to retirement in a few years. His mostly peaceful county is shaken when the body of a young man is found. The young man is one of several teens convicted of sexual assault against a young Cheyenne woman, but the boys were given suspended sentences. As Longmire and his deputies start investigating, it becomes clear that someone has a score to settle, and everyone is a suspect. Even Longmire himself can’t express too much sorrow over the death, but duty requires him to track down the other young men before they meet the same fate.

Johnson writes in a very casual style, making it easy for readers to sink into the mind and habits of Walt Longmire. The characters come to life and have their own quirks, which readers see from Longmire’s point of view. What’s more, they come across as very human, which is always extra enjoyable for readers.

The story moves along at a good pace, and though I had a general idea of what went on in the book, I still enjoyed moments of suspense for the things I couldn’t remember. Though the premise of the book is challenging (sexual assault and rape, along with not exactly thwarted justice, but certainly not satisfactory justice), I think Johnson handled it well, giving readers details as Longmire’s character remembered the case, instead of giving a vivid recap.

This is definitely a series I’d be interested in pursuing more of (or even just watching, as tv shows do a little more justice than movies). However it certainly won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. In addition to the potential triggers specific to this book, the characters are also profane with language and cavalier with relationships, which could be a turn off for some readers. That said, if those items aren’t make-it or break-it for a reader, it will certainly appeal to those who enjoy westerns and mysteries.

Forgiving What You Can’t Forget

What I really appreciate about Lysa TerKeurst’s writing is how honest and real she is. It’s so refreshing to have someone admit to the same kinds of thoughts and feelings that I’ve had, and then discuss how to process and deal with them instead of burying them again.

In Forgiving What You Can’t Forget, she explores how to move forward with forgiving deep hurts, regardless of whether the other party/parties are willing and apologetic, and regardless of how you feel about forgiveness. Forgiveness is both a moment of choice, but then a process of choice. It involves getting specific, and then letting it go. And it is independent of anyone’s choices or actions except for my own. It’s work that I do with God, for my benefit. What others get is simply a byproduct. She states, “I only need to bring my willingness to forgive, not the fullness of all my restored feelings.” A good truth reminder, because the fullness of restored feelings isn’t something I’m capable of on my own.

I appreciated that Lysa makes it very clear, “forgiveness releases our need for retaliation, not our need for boundaries.” Though forgiveness is not dependent on anyone else, restoration, reconciliation, and continued relationship certainly is. And to protect myself from the sins and wrongs of others is not necessarily an indication of unforgiveness on my part. It could be a very healthy boundary.

Lysa uses her own tough story to practically show how to walk the road of forgiveness, acknowledging that some days will be hard, some will be absolute failures, and some will feel like you’ve got it all taken care of. It’s the process we participate in, not so much the end result. She gives a few exercises for her readers to use to begin identifying where hurts have shaped beliefs that keep us walking in more hurt, then practical steps to start feeling the hurt and choosing something different.

For me, this book came at the perfect time. Though it’s not really what I want to be working through right now, it’s incredibly important, and right where I am at. It’s a raw and compelling reminder that to hold on to bitterness and anger truly is only toxic to me. It’s allowing the hurt done to me continue to hurt me day after day. It’s giving someone the ultimate power over me, instead of healing.

Whatever it is in your life that’s been a challenge to forgive and let go, I’d recommend Lysa’s book. But be warned, this is likely to bring up all sorts of things you thought you dealt with but really hadn’t. It’s not a book to read if you’re looking to supplement a comfortable life. But it’s so worth the discomfort.