Aug 15, 2011

The Leper

by Sigmund Brouwer

Set in the late 1800's, this brief heart-tugging story is about a man who contracts leprosy while serving with the military in India. He returns home and can't bear to expose his wife and young children either to the risk of contracting the disease nor to the awful sight of his ravaged face. So instead he makes arrangements to have most of his monthly stipend sent to his wife, while removing himself from her life and hoping she finds a man to provide for her and raise his children, so that he can end his own misery with a suicidal jump off a bridge. Before he can carry out all his plans, though, he unexpectedly makes contact with humanity again- discovering an abandoned child who needs his help. Despite the risk of leprosy, if he doesn't take her in she will surely die.... The baby not only touches this man's life, but also the lives of several other individuals, one being a stern unattractive woman (unfortunately named Ima Hogg) who finds her life opening up to love once she begins caring for the baby. And in a neat, tidy circle the leprous man not only finds compassion and acceptance where he only expected repulsion and rejection, but finds love again, and a reason to live.

I can't really say more without giving it all away, as the book is really quite short! It's one my grandmother had borrowed from her public library, and while visiting her this week I picked it up to read as well. It's a tender story, one that will bring you close to tears. With, granted, a strongly religious message but it's not overdone like in some books. My only quibble was the author's penchant for jumping around in time. I prefer my stories to follow a straight linear narrative; but it's not much to complain about here.

Rating: 3/5 ........ 182 pages, 2002

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Jenny said...

But wait, what if his wife ran out of money in the time between when he jumped off the bridge and when she met and married a new guy? HIS PLAN LACKS FOCUS.

Jeane said...

He was waiting until he saw her remarried before he jumped. But in the meantime, I think the stipend was pretty much assured to last through her lifetime. It just wasn't very big, so he was worried about the future of his kids.