I love the book of Tobit and I read it many years ago, sitting in Adoration as a new Catholic. And I wondered why in the world you would cut such a brilliant adventure story from the Bible.
I was therefore VERY excited when I heard about Ignatius Press’s release of Tobit’s Dog earlier this summer.
It’s is a modern retelling of the Bible story, but it’s not shoved down your throat. In fact, it’s subtle and funny and clever. I enjoyed it so much I won’t be giving it away (and my best friend already bought her own copy), and I may be rereading it, too.
The characters in this book challenged me in many ways. The setting is the Jim Crow South of the United States, which makes reading it…uncomfortable. And educational. And humorous in ways I would have never expected.
As I read this book, it played out in my head in a most delightful movie. I had a fleeting thought about what a great movie it would make, in part because then I would see Okra, the dog, for myself. (The cover gives you a taste, but I’d like to see the wagging-shaking effect myself. And pet him, too, though a movie wouldn’t let me do that.)
This book also makes me want to sit down with the Book of Tobit, too, because I have no doubt that I would appreciate it even more with a fresh rereading.
I’d love to see this book on a required reading list for a high school, because there are layers in it that would be great to explore in a classroom. That, and it’s just plain awesome writing.
From the back cover:
Despite the ever-present oppression of the Jim Crow South around him, Tobit Messager had become a prosperous and well-respected man. Then one day forces beyond his control start a cascade of misfortune that leaves him blind and nearly destitute. It is then that an affable travelling musician, who calls himself Ace Redbone, shows up on his doorstep claiming to be a distant relative. In an effort to alleviate his family’s dire situation, Tobit allows his son, Tobias, to accompany Ace Redbone on a quest to collect a long overdue debt. Together, Ace, Tobias, and a most peculiar dog named Okra set off on a journey that will lead to unexpected consequences. Currents of grace begin rippling through not only Tobit’s family but his entire community as hidden crimes are revealed and justice, which had almost been despaired of, is served. This retelling of the biblical story of Tobit, set in North Carolina during the Depression, brings to life in surprising ways the beloved Old Testament characters, including the important but often overlooked family dog.