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The Masterpiece


The Masterpiece

THE MASTERPIECE tackles the story of two individuals who, at first glance, seem like they couldn’t be more different. Roman Velasco --- a former gang member --- is used to expressing himself in graffiti, while Grace Moore is much more comfortable expressing herself in prayer. But as the story unfolds, it’s clear that their starts in life actually held more similarities than differences. Orphaned at a young age with the disadvantage of broken families, Grace and Roman are both working to overcome the baggage that life has handed them.

Roman bounced around from foster family to foster family and became an expert at running away. Until he landed at Masterson Ranch, and they broke down enough of his walls to show him that he was loved and teach him how to be a productive member of society. Grace was raised by dutiful Aunt Elizabeth, who offered stability and the “good” life, but hadn’t the first clue about how to meet the emotional needs of the child in her care.

Now an adult, Roman is a temperamental artist, who has a difficult time keeping an assistant for more than a few weeks. And Grace desperately needs life to hand her a break. As a single mother without a college degree, any job is hard to come by, not to mention finding one that will pay well enough to help her stand on her own two feet and care for her son without relying on the caring (but meddling) family that has taken her in.

Despite the fact that Grace tries to hold Roman at arm’s length, she finds herself drawn towards him, almost against her will. But as their relationship moves from friendship to something more, can they open their hearts enough to let in love and healing?

"Fans of Francine Rivers will eagerly devour THE MASTERPIECE and find exactly what they are looking for: a beautifully written story of faith, romance and the power that true freedom can bring."

Rivers does a masterful job of creating flawed but relatable characters that I could root for. Grace and Roman’s narratives are told in current time, and several flashbacks interspersed give glimpses into their younger selves. But what really made the story come alive for me was the supporting cast of characters. Jasper, Roman’s teacher from Masterson Ranch and self-appointment mentor, is inspiring as he continues to love Roman as one of his “lost boys” who he won’t give up matter what Roman throws his way. And Grace’s friendships from church offer her a support network that gives her the courage to take steps toward a new, independent life. These sketches of authentic friendship were an unexpected delight as I read.

Art of all types takes center stage in Roman’s story. The art of graffiti gave voice to an angry kid who needed a way to make himself heard. The high-end gallery art of adulthood gives Roman what he wanted as a child: the ability to make his own way in the world. Each medium speaks to a piece of who he is, but one is hidden from the world. It’s beautiful to see Roman’s journey as those halves become whole.

But Grace’s story was particularly compelling to me. As a child raised in a strict household, she learned responsibility and how to follow the rules. When she finally leaves Aunt Elizabeth’s home, she runs straight into the arms of a man who is too selfish to give her the love she deserves. Grace returns early from work one day and finds her husband in bed with another woman. So she charts a new course, desperate to keep herself from repeating her mistakes. Her internal struggle to learn to trust again and overcome shame brilliantly showcases a bravery that will resonate with people everywhere.

In this almost 500-page tome, Rivers took such care to unpack the emotional traumas that the characters experienced and dedicated space to their work towards change. But when their individual decision points came, it was almost as if the sheer force of will could undo every past wrong and heal all wounds in no time at all. As the book came to a close, Grace and Roman’s story arc seemed rushed and a bit idealistic for my liking.

As a longtime fan of Francine Rivers, one of the things I most appreciate about her writing is her ability to take religious points of view and organically weave them into storytelling. Many of her past books wade into complex and nuanced issues of faith that challenge readers to think deeply as they respond to the culture around them.

In THE MASTERPIECE, however, Rivers has taken a much less subtle approach. Overt representations of angels, demons and hell are catalysts throughout the story. Additionally, readers who are not as familiar with the Christian fiction genre may feel, at times, that the book is overly “preachy.” Still, the redemptive themes of the story will provide a nice escape from our real-life reality, offering light and hope in a world that sometimes seems deficient of both.

Fans of Francine Rivers will eagerly devour THE MASTERPIECE and find exactly what they are looking for: a beautifully written story of faith, romance and the power that true freedom can bring.

Reviewed by Amy Haddock on February 9, 2018

The Masterpiece
by Francine Rivers

  • Publication Date: February 6, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction, Romance, Women's Fiction
  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
  • ISBN-10: 1496407903
  • ISBN-13: 9781496407900