Thursday, August 19, 2010

Signs of LIfe

I apologize for the over-long hiatus to this blog. I do have two excuses - I was on holidays and then I filled in for our receiver who took some time off. I had forgotten what a full-time job that was! Customers often tell us how peaceful and beautiful our store is, but that is only because they don't usually step foot in the receiving room where there is non-stop hustle, bustle and dust (le).

It does my heart good to be back on the floor, talking and writing about good books. I read several while I was down on the damp Oregon coast huddled next to our roaring camp fire or wrapped in a blanket in our van. This was not the Oregon I have known and loved. This was a foggy, gray, drizzly soup. Never mind. Onward to the books!

Good news from the book world! Lisa Samson has just written a new book, Resurrection in May. Once again she tackles unpopular subjects: genocide, post-traumatic stress disorder, agoraphobia, (after that holiday I'm seriously considering succumbing), and acute depression.

No pat answers, no fairytale ending, a few loose ends, marvelous characterization - Lisa Samson is a consummate storyteller with a gentle, grace-filled view of humankind. As far as I'm concerned, she can't write fast enough.

The story centers around May, a party girl who is celebrating her graduation from college in 1993 with the mother of all hangovers. Claudius, an elderly farmer, finds her throwing up on a local bridge the morning after. In May's words, she "dates too much, drinks too much, smokes too much, just graduated with a 4.0, loves animals and little kids". One of my favourite parts is Claudius' description of her dress. "The girl was packaged in a watermelon-colored dress that had clearly been cut from the vine before it had been allowed to grow all of its skirt."

Both May and her unlikely rescuer have unexpected depths which give the reader great pleasure to explore. May, for all of her outward sophistication, does have a heart of compassion. In an attempt to make a difference in her world, she volunteers for several months in Rwanda working with a Tutsi priest in his impoverished village. She lives (barely) through the horrors that follow but the inward and outward scars will remain forever.

Claudius provides a home for May on his farm upon her return in hopes of healing. He (one of the central characters for goodness' sake!) dies shortly after she comes to stay. This killing off of one of the main protaganists halfway through the book is a literary device seldom used in fiction and shocked me profoundly. Don't remove one of the people that I want to emulate!

Speaking of role models, most of Samson's novels do feature followers of Jesus who live out their faith in such a way that we want to follow them. She explores the reality of Christians living together in community, of putting their faith into action, of believers reaching out to the lost. I want to be that kind of a Christian and the author weaves in very practical descriptions of what that looks like.

Another attractive feature (at least to me!) of this book is the emphasis on good, homegrown food! At several points throughout the book we can almost taste the steaming chicken soup, or the buttery biscuits or the fragrant apple dumplings.

Gardening and flowers also play a significant part in the ongoing story of May. But just as in life, neither plants or hearts blossom and become healthy overnight. May's healing takes years. The reader gets to know her so well that we cheer when she succeeds and groan when she falls.

Read and be glad that Christendom has been blessed with an author like Lisa Samson. Long may she live and write.


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