2 out of 4 stars
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The Family Bible by Stephen W. Johnson is not quite as it seems. Yes, the book recounts decades of history. However, it intermixes storytelling that makes the individuals portrayed within more realistic.
The book starts at the "Beginning," in the sixteenth century. It goes on to recount seven generations of history. The book is generally separated by each generation, though they overlap at times. For instance, readers learn about Robert Ramey who moved to South Carolina from Scotland. From there, readers follow his journey to Tennessee to marry Tabitha Beaver, and the story goes on to describe their life and children in the same part before moving to another generation.
The author pulls readers into the different generations/parts by providing tales of their endeavors. Readers see how the world changed from the eyes of one family. They follow a "fire and brimstone" type preacher, a Civil War veteran, and the emergence of NASA and nuclear weapons. That said, it is hard to provide a specific synopsis of the book as there are so many stories intertwined into one work.
I will start by saying that the book definitely needs an additional set of proofreading. I encountered grammatical errors from the "Foreward." Most of these errors were minor, like in the form of incorrect capitalization or commas. That said, the number of them was great.
In total, I found the book interesting. I like the idea of following a family bible and the individuals who held it. The people were real, and the author included pictures of them. It was fun to be able to see this in historical fiction, as I feel the people are often fictional when I read historical fiction. My favorite part was when I got to learn about the author's mother and how she advocated for compensation following failures at the Nevada Nuclear test site.
That said, I found much to be desired in this book. I wanted a table of contents and a family tree that I could refer back to. I felt that this would assist in some of my understanding of the characters and story. I also found that the author did not follow the general "show don't tell" rule. The author seemed to describe the setting and situation, instead of the characters interacting with the environment. I believe this may be due to the fact that the author used the present tense, which I found hard to read at times. There were also moments that were tedious to me and could be eliminated.
Overall, I have to give this book 2 out of 4 stars. I took away two for the grammatical errors and other issues I found with the book noted above. However, the stories within were interesting. Those in the history field may find it particularly appealing, though I would not specifically recommend it at this time. As a note, however, individuals who read this should know that there is a large portion of the book that involves religion, though the book does not try to influence the readers' beliefs.
The Family Bible
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