Susan Ridley feels she is different – she does not quite feel that she belongs to her family with its highly traditional Christian background, and she feels trapped in it. So when Tom Sparrow falls in love with her, they both try to maintain their friendship. This is despite Ridleys’ disapproval of outsiders as dictated by their religion. When Tom is set to go to university, Susan tries to follow suit against her family’s wishes, and pushes on with interviews that she passes. However, she does not push through with university, and Tom does not know why. Thirty years later, Tom returns and buys the old Ridley’s house when it appears in the market. Another young lady named Melanie is interested in the house and they both come to an arrangement. As the story continues, Tom discovers the truth hidden in its outbuilding and begins to learn what happened to Susan Ridley many years ago.
We do not choose the families we are born into, and “Leaving Gilead” is a heartbreaking story of an individual’s fight to assert oneself. The story is set against the backdrop of a very conservative society with irrational beliefs. What does one do with one’s dreams when everything seems to be against one’s favor? Although the situations in the book seem bleak, “Leaving Gilead” is also a story of courage and perseverance. It is a tale of how much a person can endure in paying the price to earn freedom. It is a very touching story written in Robert Crompton's engaging writing style. One cannot help but empathize with the main protagonists and marvel at the narrowmindedness and hypocrisy of some of the characters. This is because the plot is well-defined and the description is vivid. This novel is also an eye-opener and readers will not be able to put the book down once they read the first few pages.
Reviewed by Maria Beltran for Readers' Favorite