Have you ever reached the end of a book to find yourself feeling a little sad that it was finished; as if you were saying goodbye to good friends? That is how I felt as I closed Tobit’s Dog, by Michael Nicholas Richard.
Tobit’s Dog is a novel based on the beautiful Old Testament book of Tobit. I had never read Tobit in its entirety, and decided to do so before reading the novel. As I moved on to Tobit’s Dog, I quickly discovered how creatively and thoughtfully the author brought the Biblical book into the Twentieth Century.
The story is about the Messager family (a black family living in North Carolina during the Great Depression) and their many trials, sufferings, and joys. I immediately connected with Tobit Messager, his wife Anna, his son Tobias and of course his faithful companion Okra.
Tobit was a hard working man of faith. He was respected by those who knew him well; however being a black, Catholic man in the south didn’t make life easy for him. After losing a good job Tobit made his living by finding things at the dump to fix up and sell. Anna cleaned houses to help. Hardships continued to find Tobit, including an unjust arrest and blindness.
One day Ace Redbone, a traveling musician and distant cousin showed up to visit the Messager family. Okra could sense his extraordinary presence before he even arrived. Ace seemed to have a calming effect on everyone he met. He convinced Tobit to allow him to take Tobias to collect a debt owed to him from another cousin. Anna was reluctant to allow Tobias to take this trip, but relented due to Okras trust of this man and Tobit’s strong feeling that God sent Ace to help them in this way.
Tobias, Okra and Ace set out for quite a journey before finding their cousin Jubal, his wife Rose and daughter Sarah. Sarah lost three fiancés and she and her family carried the heaviness of what others spoke of as a curse upon her. While Ace and Tobias were in town Ace began to unravel some mysteries and restoration began to take place in Jubal’s home. Clarity, healing and even miracles followed in Tobit’s home.
While the ugliness of the racism of that period wove its way through the pages, making a few parts difficult to read, it did not outweigh the appeal of the story. The links between the Biblical story and the novel intrigued me. With each page I loved this book more and more. The final chapters had me smiling. Tobit’s great faith saw him through the adversities he faced. True to the book in Scripture, Tobits Dog is a story that reminds us that God takes care of those who love Him and live a just life. Tobit’s Dog, just like the book of Tobit, did not disappoint.
· You can find an explanation of why the Catholic Bible has different books here.