Friday, July 30, 2010

Book Review: Resurrection in May

My first impression of this book was that it was absolutely delightful! Fun-loving college student May meets grandfatherly Claudius who rescues her from a drunken predicament. While recovering at his farm, May tells Claudius her hopes, plans and dreams. He’s curious—and a little concerned, but content with his chosen life of solitude on a quiet Kentucky farm. The contrasting characters in such an unlikely setting made for a great story start.

But then May goes to Rwanda for a missions trip and gets caught up in harsh events there. (Warning: do not read these chapters while waiting for your child in the dentist’s office because you will be uncomfortably disturbed and want to cry, and the dentist’s office is an awkward place for that.)

May returns to Kentucky deeply scarred both physically and emotionally. She seeks solace on Claudius’ farm—and stays there, refusing to talk about what happened, refusing to leave for any reason at all.

Resurrection in May is the story of her healing process, how the community helps and hinders and grows with her as a result. It’s disturbing and frustrating and aggravating, yet author Lisa Samson highlights moments of joy in the midst of deep pain and shows how God can patiently work in individuals and society and how life moves steadily on even when death is all around.

Thank you Thomas Nelson Publishers for sending a complimentary copy of this book for my review.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Book Review: Hurricanes in Paradise

Throw four single women with all of their personal issues and concerns together at a resort in the Bahamas with the threat of a hurricane coming in and you have a great story of conflict and resolution, hurt and healing, and forever friendships forged. Think Steel Magnolias on an island with Christ’s grace and forgiveness thrown in.

Issues woven into the story include: alcoholism, divorce, grief, disease, betrayal, and domestic abuse. The four main characters are far from perfect, but strong. Each knows she needs healing and help that can only come from Christ. Each reaches her moment of crisis in turn—with help from new acquaintances quickly becoming friends.

Personally, I did have one struggle with this book—a struggle that one of the characters even shared with me. Winnie’s denominational convictions came out strongly in the setting of a resort casino with several bars and an adult swimming pool. It was obvious that this wasn’t an environment she was used to or comfortable in. She spoke up to her companions about the things that disturbed her, mentioning often that Baptists stayed away from such things. The other ladies teased her lightly as they dragged her in. But considering the struggles they were dealing with personally, even because of some of those things, I wondered why they weren’t more cautious themselves, why they didn’t let Winnie lead and try to avoid those things with her—or, at the least, respect and honor Winnie’s convictions.

On the other hand, I loved the emphasis on forgiveness and healing available to everyone all around. When Christians fail, God forgives and helps them to forgive themselves, too. When death claims our loved ones, God is there. He helps us overcome the grief and leads us in new directions. If you enjoy stories that illustrate how God can work in people’s lives through His people who love and care for one another, you may like Hurricanes in Paradise.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for my review by Tyndale House Publishers.