Island of the World by Michael O’Brien←

Island of the World by Michael O'BrienIsland of The World

by Michael D. O’Brien

So I have fallen into a pattern with my book reviews of beginning by sharing the publisher’s product description first and then sharing my thoughts or summary of the book afterward. I feel like I should break from that pattern for this one. I will include it below if you want to read it here.

This book is of a different style than many that I have typically read. My wife had it recommended to her and I got to experience watching her read it. She was completely enthralled with the book (read her review here: K. Liz Barker). To be honest, I wasn’t sure I would feel the same way but I decided to read it anyway.

The book is simply one man’s life story. Born in the mountains of Croatia this book takes you soaring into the heights and will absolutely devastate you at other moments.

We are born, we eat, and learn, and die. We leave a tracery of messages in the lives of others, a little shifting of the soil, a stone moved from here to there, a word uttered, a song, a poem left behind. I was here, each of these declare. I was here.

It will open your eyes to the joys of incredibly rich and vibrant culture and it will also open your eyes to the horrors that were committed by the people in that same culture.

“A man suffers injustice. He resents it, and his resentment grows and grows and becomes anger. Anger, if it is fed, then becomes hatred. Hatred, if fed, opens the soul to evil spirits. And when they possess a man, he becomes capable of any atrocity. Afterward, he will not know how or why he became like that.”

The author of this book not only intends to open your eyes to the richness and meaning that this life has – but in the end – he opens your eyes to the richness and meaning that this life has because of the ultimate reality of the One who made us and made this world and is actively at work in this world.

Seldom have I encountered the few who are awake, who cast their gaze to the real foundations, which, as human beings should know, are above.

I don’t even know what more to say. The book is extremely well written. It is quite long (800+) yet can be a surprisingly quick read, if you become as rapt as I did. As you read you will be caused to think. This is a very good thing indeed.

Here is the author’s page for the book:

Here is an interview the author gave regarding the book:

Product Description

Island of the World is the story of a child born in 1933 into the turbulent world of the Balkans and tracing his life into the third millennium. The central character is Josip Lasta, the son of an impoverished school teacher in a remote village high in the mountains of the Bosnian interior. As the novel begins, World War II is underway and the entire region of Yugoslavia is torn by conflicting factions: German and Italian occupying armies, and the rebel forces that resist them-the fascist Ustashe, Serb nationalist Chetniks, and Communist Partisans. As events gather momentum, hell breaks loose, and the young and the innocent are caught in the path of great evils. Their only remaining strength is their religious faith and their families.For more than a century, the confused and highly inflammatory history of former Yugoslavia has been the subject of numerous books, many of them rife with revisionist history and propaganda. The peoples of the Balkans live on the border of three worlds: the Islamic, the orthodox Slavic East, and Catholic Europe, and as such they stand in the path of major world conflicts that are not only geo-political but fundamentally spiritual. This novel cuts to the core question: how does a person retain his identity, indeed his humanity, in absolutely dehumanizing situations?In the life of the central character, the author demonstrates that this will demand suffering and sacrifice, heroism and even holiness. When he is twelve years old, his entire world is destroyed, and so begins a lifelong Odyssey to find again the faith which the blows of evil have shattered. The plot takes the reader through Josip’s youth, his young manhood, life under the Communist regime, hope and loss and unexpected blessings, the growth of his creative powers as a poet, and the ultimate test of his life. Ultimately this novel is about the crucifixion of a soul-and resurrection.


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