Title: The Masterpiece
Author: Francine Rivers
Genre: Christian fiction
Wow, what an intense, emotional read!
To the world it would appear that famous painter Roman Velasco has it all together. His paintings sell for more money than some people make in a year, and he has a huge mansion in a secluded area with breathtaking views over the Topanga Canyon. Secretly is also “The Bird” (aka BRD), the illustrious graffiti artist who has managed to give the COPS the slip for over a decade. Most days he secludes himself in the studio in his home and works on art that sells rather than art he actually enjoys. Yet Roman’s past is a painful one, and one that he doesn’t share with anyone. When he was only seven his young, drug-addicted prostitute mother died of an overdose. He spent the rest of his childhood in-and-out of foster homes and attempting to escape them. He refused to let anyone get close to him, making his art the only voice he shared about how he was really feeling.
Young, single mom Grace Moore is struggling with an infant son name Samuel. At the age of 7 she lost both of her parents in a violent act and was sent to be raised by her Aunt Elizabeth who took her in out of duty more than love. She was used and abused by her ex-husband who left her for another woman after Grace left school and worked hard to put him through college (including doing a lot of his work for him and giving up her own scholarship so she could work more to support him). He emptied out their bank accounts before running off. Leaning on the support of her friends, Grace works to put herself back together. Her son came along from a single night “letting go” and trying to let go of some of her pain. When Samuel is five months old, Grace is given an opportunity to become the personal assistant to the artist Roman Velasco. With a warning that no one lasts on the job, Grace sets off for his home with the hopes of building a better future for her son.
Grace is a Christian with her social network being her church. Due to his animosity towards it, Grace had stopped going to church almost completely while she was married to Patrick. After he left she found comfort and support in her new church family. While she hopes to find a father-figure for Samuel, she doesn’t want to make the same mistakes at choosing the wrong guy like Patrick again. Roman Velasco wants nothing to do with religion, yet finds it curious how Grace talks about God as if he is a friend and not some mystical being. Although it’s rough in the beginning, the two eventually learn to work with each other. It takes a road trip before either of them really shares any details about their lives and painful pasts. It isn’t until an unexpected event happens that the two begin to realize that they actually care for each other. But has Christ really made a change in Roman’s life? Is it safe for Grace to give up her fear of choosing the wrong man?
I will not lie, there were several scenes in this book that made me cry. It was very intense and emotional, and coming in at nearly 500 pages there was plenty of room for detail. Often Christian fiction books are known to have what some call the “cheese factor,” where scenes can be downright “cheesy.” They shy away from the deep, dark, difficult stuff. To some extent it makes them more unrealistic even though they can be very encouraging. Although this book doesn’t contain anything overly graphic, in a lot of ways it’s very real. None of the characters have it all together- not even the pastor. Everyone has their flaws, everyone has their pasts, everyone has pain in their life. What makes the difference is not the absence of pain and trials in one’s life, but what they choose to do about it- look to the LORD or try to figure it out on their own. Only one of those options can lead to real healing and growth. In many ways it was a difficult read, but it was well worth it and is still running through my mind.
*I received a free ARC copy of this book from a goodreads giveaway for an honest review*
Age Appropriateness: For many reasons I don’t recommend this book to younger readers. Although there are no actual sex scenes, there are several sexual references. There are a few violent scenes that were difficult to read through and could be disturbing to some readers (regardless of age). I would recommend parents read this before determining if they would allow their teens to read it. It is a Christian book and includes scripture and prayer, but doesn’t shy away from some tough stuff either. The main characters had tough upbringings to say the least. Personally I wouldn’t recommend under 16.