I have many books which I love and consider favourites. I think, however, that my all time favourite book is The Last Sin Eater, by Francine Rivers.
The tag-thing (what is that called?) on the front cover reads:
A little girl's quest for redemption uncovers a dark secret... but the truth shall set her free.
All that matters for Cadi Forbes is finding the one man who can set her free from the sin that plagues her, the sin that has stolen her mother's love from her and made her wish she could flee life and its terrible injustice. But Cadi doesn't know that the "sin eater" is seeking as well. Before their journeys are over, Cadi and the sin eater must face themselves, each other, and the One who will demand everything from them in exchange for the answers they seek. A captivating tale of suffering, seeking, and redemption.
I'll say straight up that this book isn't the most brilliantly written book I've ever read, and there are a couple of sections which at first I wasn't sure about, though on reflection, I think they actually are appropriate: for example, the way the preacher talks is quite long winded, but I think that's actually a fairly accurate representation of how they may have spoken in the mid 1850s. Despite its imperfections, this book has that "something" which keeps drawing me back.
I love the theme of redemption, and the romance woven throughout the narrative. Even though I've read it several times I always somehow manage to forget the reason Cadi's mum doesn't love her, so that's always a fresh discovery, which is nice! The "last sin eater" referred to in the title is Jesus, hence the strong themes of redemption (Francine Rivers often writes on this theme: her book Redeeming Love is very popular, though I prefer Atonement Child, which also has this theme, though not as strongly). For those of you who are Frank Peretti fans, The Last Sin Eater reminds me of some that he has written, though it doesn't (in my opinion) compare to This Present Darkness or Piercing the Darkness, both of which has a massive impact on the Christian community.
Just incase you were wondering, a "sin eater" (according to the author's note) was a person who was paid a fee or given food so that he would take upon himself the moral trespasses (or sins) of a deceased person and their eternal punishments. Sin eaters were apparently common in the early 1800s in England, parts of Scotland, and the Welsh border district. The custom of sin eaters was brought to the Americas by immigrants and practices in remote areas of the Appalachian Mountains. In a very real sense, sin eaters were scapegoats.
Funny(ish) story: this book has been adapted into a movie, and the copy I have has an insert with pictures from the movie set. One night, I dreamt the whole movie! I was convinced for months that I'd actually seen the movie in real life, my dream had been so real (and the adaption was brilliant!). It wasn't until I actually saw the movie that I realised it had all been a dream. The main difference was the accents: in my dream the cast had a 'normal' Hollywood accent, but in the real movie they all had a Scottish (I think) accent.
In the interest of full disclosure, when I was in my teens my favourite book was King Solomon's Mines. I was a strange one! (I still am strange...)
This post was way longer than I was intending! If you are also taking part in this challenge, leave a link in the comments so I (and other readers) can check out what your favourite book is :D