Thursday, June 22, 2006

Great Christian fiction

I think I was a lot like many other Christians out there a year ago, in that I didn't really know anything about the world of Christian fiction. I had read the Left Behind series and some of Janette Oke's books, but I didn't think there was any more to it than that. At a writer's discussion group, a woman mentioned that her favorite book was A Scarlet Thread by Francine Rivers. I had never heard of it or Rivers before, and the book was in the regular fiction section at the library, so I checked it out and was stunned by Rivers amazing writing and the way that she wove Christianity into the fabric of the book. In the back of the book was an advertisement for Angela Hunt's The Pearl, so I ordered that from the library. When I sat down to read it, I bawled my way through the first 70 pages and was forced to rethink my faith by the end. I didn't know that Christian fiction could be like that! I soon worked my way through all of Angela's books, which led me to Lori Copeland and Lisa Samson and so many other amazing Christian authors. If you like John Grisham, check out Randy Singer. Like Mary Higgins Clark? Check out Terri Blackstock. Stephen King? Ted Dekker. Dean Koontz? Frank Peretti. There's something for everyone out there on the Christian market, and while occasionally the quality is lacking, for the most part, these writers are phenomenal, and for the most part, underpaid. They don't get the kind of writing bonuses and deals that secular writers get, and in a lot of cases, they are better. Especially Angela Hunt, she's my absolute favorite. just delivered her two most recent books to my door yesterday: Uncharted and A Time to Mend. I can't decide which to read first! Here's some great Christian fiction I recently read.

Sisterchicks Do the Hula by Robin Jones Gunn is the second fun, moving book in the Sisterchick series. Hope and Laurie always wanted to travel to Hawaii together; it just takes them twenty years to get there! While there both women break out of their shells and start living for real in the Lord. Gunn does such an amazing job describing Hawaii, I wanted to call a travel agent as soon as I finished the book. The descriptions of sunrises and sunsets almost make it seem like there is no place on earth closer to God. The women's friendship is a graceful, beautiful thing, as much a part of the story as each woman's individual growth. This book seemed a little lighter spiritually than the first book, but it's still a true joy to read.

Mother of Prevention by Lori Copeland surprised me, as I think it does many readers. The cover and promotion make this book look like light inspirational chick-lit, but the topics it handles are much deeper, and it takes the reader on a meaningful journey. Kate Madison's life is perfect: perfect job, kids, husband, home, etc until her firefighter husband is killed in the line of duty and everything Kate thought she could rely on, including God, seems to be in chaos. Kate has to face her fears of being alone as well as face the fact that her life will not be the way she imagined it to be. Kate's fears start spilling over onto her daughters making them frightened and dependent as well. Copeland does an excellent job of handling Kate's fears and her struggles with the Lord. Lots of us have turned our backs on the Lord when we feel that He has let us down, and we all have to learn that He's not the one who walks away; we do. Kate has a lot of lessons to learn throughout this novel, and not everything is tied up neatly when the story ends. There are a few laughs in this book and lots of great characters, but don't read this expecting chick-lit, read this expecting to be moved in your faith.

Boo Who by Rene Gutteridge is the second book in the Boo series based in Skary, Indiana. Wolfe Boone has given up his lucrative writing career to sell used cars, fianceeis fiancee Ainsley is embarking upon a new career herself. In the meantime, the town is trying to recover financially and emotionally from the loss of its tourism and find its new heart. This book is such a hoocouldn'try couldn't help myself, once you read the book, you'll understand)! I was trying to explain the plot to my husband last night, and he found himself laughing out loud at the antics of the citizens of Skary. . There are so many subplots in this book, it's impossible to list them all, but Gutteridge handles them with flair. She does a terrific job of poking fun at the residents of a small town while still treating them with respect and love. She also does a wonderful job of bringing the Lord and how He works into the story without proselytizing. Nearly everyone in the book goes through a crisis of figuring out who they are and where they fit into God's plan with the message being that we all fit, no matter who we are. Skary finds its new heart and the reader sees that all things are made new.

I just started The Five Love Languages of Children last night by Gary Chapman as part of my devotion time, I'm finishing up Messy Spirituality by Michael Yaconelli, and yes Dad, I'm reading My Utmost for His Highest. Still working on River of Doubt and The Sultan's Seal, but with the 2 books by Angela Hunt sitting out, it's getting hard to resist putting them aside for now. Have a great day!


Anonymous said...

Thank you for promoting Christian fiction! You're absolutely right, there is some AMAZING stuff out there--and it rivals or beats the books in the general market. You go, girl!