Harriet Jareck is dying. Cancer snakes through her brain, eradicating her short-term memory and her ability to recognize faces. It’s not looming death that scares her—she’s had a long life on the farm she loves. What she fears most is dying before she’s been forgiven for her worst sin. She’s dedicated her life to repenting for that sin, but she worries that it’s not enough. She feels called to tell the whole story—every disturbing detail—to seek forgiveness, not knowing who listens or whether she has enough time left in her to finish.
Madelyn March lives in the world of books. By day, she can be found teaching children to read books or writing one of her novels. By night, she's often immersed in the world of a book. In-between those times, she often daydreams about story ideas. She is fascinated with the power of a story to share the human experience in all its complexity.
Nature often plays an important part in Madelyn’s stories. It’s like a character in and of itself, so it’s no surprise that when Madelyn is taking a book break, her favorite thing to do is hike in a Michigan forest with her family.
Madelyn is also the author of the "The Nature of Denial" and "Now, I See."
As Harriet Jareck lies dying, cancer capriciously undulating it’s way through her dementia addled brain, she can't let go of a memory that has haunted her for most of her adult life. Her greatest fear is that she will die before she can share this memory and hopefully be forgiven for the transgression it contains. But her time is short and who will listen? People, throughout time, have often wondered how to go about confessing their sins. Do they need to wait for an appointed time or go to a special place? Do they need to confess their sins to a particular person? Which really highlights James 5:16, as the pivotal text underscoring much of March’s narrative: "Confess your sins to one another ... that you may be healed." However, I was never thoroughly convinced of just exactly what Harriet’s transgression sincerely was. She appeared to me to be mostly blameless. At worst she was simply someone who had refused to embrace the idea that forgiveness is one of giving up the possibility of a better past. But, perhaps she is guilty in a way that only the truly devout can be. Many Christians live under a burden of guilt, living in the past instead of in the future, in their ‘New Life’ with Christ, never really believing that God has truly forgiven them. Which is what makes this story worthwhile. It tells us that letting go of an old attachment opens up the real possibility of a new one. Which would be sufficient enough, except that it always leaves a blank spot where the future lives, and we mostly fill such blank spots with fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of failure. Fear of future loss and additional pain. Fear makes us cling to what we know, however bad it makes us feel. So Harriet wasn’t really looking for forgiveness. She was looking for a way to calm her fear. A fear of the unknown. A fear only the dying can know. Although, I found this book to be undoubtedly the work of a writer who is still learning how to piece together a good story, the writing, nevertheless, and despite its short comings, did manage to draw me in. Still, the overall ideas and themes attempting to be expressed throughout the book were not completely explored as well as they should have been and the ending felt rushed and uneven. As a result the second half of the book was a huge let down for me. But in spite of what the reader might think, I did enjoy the narrative enough to finish the book. In the end however, I simply found myself wanting to love this story perhaps a little more than it deserved.
Cleanliness: Disgusting (25+ curse words. Other content to consider: cancer, abuse, religion, stillbirth, implied sex, two descriptive rape scenes, adultery, and death.)
This is a very intriguing book. The whole story is a flashback told by a guilty narrator who is dying of brain cancer. She simply wants to confess her biggest sin to anyone who will listen.
The Giving House is packed full of intense scenes and difficult topics. It was disturbing, but meaningful; sad, but victorious; terrible, but real. It was a little hard to read because of how upset it made me. The worst part is that the book represents what real people have gone through.
I found a lot of this book fairly predictable, but still enjoyable. I did skim part of it because of the amount of curse words. To me, it is odd to have a semi-religious premise about forgiveness with such awful filth inside.
The premise and style of this book was amazing. It is very unique, and shows that a lot of good people have an awful past.
~I was sent a free copy of this book from the author for an honest review~
This story got me thinking about secrets and the layers in our lives that can sometimes hide them from the ones closest to us. Not every one of our personal stories is known as well by others as it is known by our own minds, but what if there was a secret you could no longer keep? A secret that you didn’t want your family to know, but in the end, was so painful that you would reveal it to anyone?
That is what happened to Harriet, who was at the end of her life and was desperate to find forgiveness for a sin that was tormenting her cancer-filled mind. Harriet’s story is about forgiveness and grace, and the human capacity to come out on the other side of great tragedy and loss. Her story leaves me hopeful for peace-filled transition at the end of all of our journeys.
Madelyn March does here what she does best -- a story about an ordinary person coping with a dark secret. This time it's a woman subjected to spousal abuse. It's difficult to look at and Ms. March doesn't spare us from the worst of it, but our heroine's inspirational journey makes it worth the effort. Harriett refuses to be defeated by her misfortunes and you can't help but cheer for her. Other reviewers said this book was predictable, but I didn't find that. There are many points in the story where the author could have given us a cliche plot twist, but instead delivered something unexpected. I found that refreshing. A quick read, but the story stays with you.
I received a copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway.
Even with its short length, I couldn't put myself through more than 25 percent of this book. It felt like reading torture porn, and as far as I could tell there really wasn't any point beyond "shock factor." The writing felt amateur and incomplete, and overall I really couldn't find a single redeeming quality. Don't waste your time.
I really enjoyed this new novel by Madelyn March. In fact, I stayed up way past my bedtime to finish it. It is a very compelling, thoughtful story. What, if anything, will haunt us until our last breath. Read “The Giving House” to find out.
As Harriet lies in her bed dying, she can't shake the memory that has haunted her for years. Her greatest fear is that she will die before she can share her story, before she can be forgiven, before someone will understand what actually happened. Great story, skillfully told.
The Giving House by Madelyn March is a 4.5 out of 5 read! This novel entwines the story of dying with a tale of regret. Lovely, touching, believable characters! Have a tissue handy as you enter this story!
This book is cleverly written. It is an example of how guilt can overcome you even if you really have nothing to feel guilty about. We have all been there in one way or another. Harriet was very brave! She really had no choice but to do what she did. I felt sad for Kate.