Thursday, July 24, 2008

Review: Quaker Summer by Lisa Samson

I finally got a chance to finish Quaker Summer by Lisa Samson while I was at jurisdictional conference last week. I had been reading Lisa's blog for a while (not even sure how I ever stumbled on it in the first place actually) and so asked for the book for Christmas. I got the book, but then it sat sadly with many other unread books for the longest time. I just wasn't in the mood to read it - I picked it up a couple of time and read the first page, and then put it down for months.

Finally, something sparked, and I read and read. I really enjoyed this book. I don't usually read fiction that I would call "Christian Fiction," but this book seems more a book about life, identity, and call, from a Christian point of view than a "Christian Fiction" book. (Maybe I just haven't read any good "Christian Fiction.")

The main character is Heather, a married woman with a wealthy physician husband and a picked-on teenage son. Heather is a spender. She buys and buys and has to have more and more. She's unsatisfied with church. She's unsatisfied with her life. She has a feeling that there must be something more, but she's terrified to change her life in any way to see if there might be something more. Eventually, though, circumstances arise that cause her to try to do something different with herself, her life, her direction, her relationship with God.

I think that this book does an excellent job of zeroing in on the conundrum of many Christians, especially middle-class or affluent Christians (people, really) living in the United States. There is a longing, deep within, a knowledge, a lure, a feeling, that we are living in such a way that misses the point entirely. And yet, we are unable to free ourselves, change our lives, take any steps to let go of the things that are tying us down to an existence that is also killing us. We have a feeling about what we should do. We just can't seem to do it. Fear doing it. Desperately try anything other than doing what we should be doing.

Of course, being a fiction novel, some of the things that happen to Heather are dramatic and over-the-top. For her, they are the events that cause her to step out of her routine and beyond to a more fulfilling relationship with God. Most of us don't experience such dramatic events. Can we step out anyway? That's the question I'm left with.

Highly recommended!
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