Jul 16, 2007

Oliver Twist ~ Charles Dickens

This review was written by Sam's older sister Kelly Taylor. Thank you for the contribution Kelly!
“Child as he was, he was desperate with hunger, and reckless with misery. He rose from the table, and advancing to the master, basin and spoon in hand, said, somewhat alarmed at his own temerity: ‘Please, sir, I want some more.’”
- Pg 25, Oliver Twist

The classic tale of Oliver Twist was originally penned by Charles Dickens in 1839, a social novel written to call attention to the revolting state of England’s lowlife, the wrongs of the welfare system, and other evils such as child labor and the recruitment of children as criminals.

Young Dickens experienced a fragment of this first hand when at the age of 12, his father was imprisoned for overspending and Charles was sent to the workhouses, working 10 hours a day at Warren’s Boot Blacking factory. The reader feels Dickens reflections of childhood and his passion for public awareness as he reads this classic story revolving around an innocent orphaned boy, Oliver Twist, born into a poor house outside of London.

As the tale takes its ups and downs, Oliver finds himself with the best and the worst of London society. He encounters various people from the detestable Fagin, and his unruly gang of pickpockets to the benevolent Mr. Brownlow, who kindly offers Oliver a home. The plot thickens with the beautiful Rose Maylie, a compassionate young woman with a strangely mysterious past and uncanny resemblance to Oliver.

The story reveals the nature of man in many ways, as some are destined to be evil (see Proverbs 16:4) and others destined for good and greatness. Characters like villainous Bill Sikes and Monks show how destructive acting rashly can be on ones life. Harry Maylie teaches the value of life, and love with poverty, over riches accompanied by loneliness. The haughty Mr. Bumble unwittingly educates us on the value of humility, while Mr. Brownlow demonstrates love even through difficulty. Through Nancy we learn faithfulness, and by Noah Claypool we see the folly of trying to gain wealth by thievery and falsehood, and the benefits of prosperity gained by labor and honest hard work. Along for the ride are memorable characters such as Mr. Grimwig, a funny old man, who distrusts Oliver, but comes to love him in the end after he finally stops offering to “eat his head.” (For the reason, you will have to read the book!).

This exciting tale is interwoven with innocence and iniquity, love and hatred, joy and sorrow. I myself am an avid Dickens fan, and this book didn’t let me down in the least! Recommended as a good introduction to Dickens works, Oliver Twist is well worth your time as it shows us more than the sorrows of London’s poor in the early 1800’s and how to guard against the mistakes of the past, but also many valuable life lessons from the brilliant mind of Charles Dickens

Written by Kelly Taylor, Vancouver WA

Buy Oliver Twist

Jul 10, 2007


This book is not your everyday missionary biography. It’s not a story about a missionary who worked in Europe connecting with some exciting culture. That is good and it can still be hard and trying, but there is something awesome about reading the story of one person who did all God told them to do, even if it meant giving up their life.

I am around missionaries a lot through my family and church so I get to hear a lot of powerful stories. And, of course, I love missionary biographies. Some of them were really powerful. Stories of the lives of Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Cameron Townsend, and William Carey made me think twice about my life and how selfish I could be. But none of them affected me the same as reading Bruchko, the story of Bruce Olson, a guy who at 19, without funding or any experience went into the jungles of Columbia to share the Gospel with a stone age tribe known as the Motilones.

Bruce Olson was just another kid from Minnesota who probably wouldn't go anywhere big in life. He wore glasses, wasn't very athletic or strong, and he wasn't even that smart. His parents were Lutherans, he wasn't a Christian, though he thought he was. Then he began to go to a friends church were he learned about the true God. He accepted Jesus as his Lord and began to live his life for him. From the outset he faced difficulty. His parents didn't agree with him about his new found religion. His Dad would even lock him out of the house at nights when he came home late from church. He had been going to his new church for quite some time when one day during a week when his church had missionaries come and share their stories he felt God telling him to go to Columbia.

So, with no promises of support, no training, and only God's leading in his life, Bruce gets on a plane and flies to Columbia. His adventures in the jungles and cities of this country are frightening and powerful. Many times different people tried to kill him. He has almost died of a number of different diseases. His best friend is shot by outlaws, and his fiancee dies in a car wreck. Yet, amazingly, he trusts God.

What follows is an amazing display of Bruce’s faith in God and God’s power through Bruce. I won’t get into everything that happens because I want you to read it and gain something from it. Trust me when I say that it will make you stop and think about the way you are living your life. After reading this book I looked at my life and realized how selfish I really was and how much I needed God to change me. So be warned, it will affect you.

Bruchko is a story set in the jungles of South America, and consequently, there are many things that might frighten or disgust younger readers. Also, Mr. Olson is not the best writer, and his book is not exactly great reading in the purely physical sense, but the content is still very much worth it. For those 13 and up who read it, read all of it. Skip nothing. It is an awesome book that should be read and put on everyone’s reading list.

Bruce Olson's life wasn't and isn't easy. Nobody ever said it would be. But he chose to follow were God led him, and because of that hundreds if not thousands of people will stand with us in heaven. Right next to one more guy who did everything God told him to and persevered.

Ted Bradley