Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Murder in Little Italy & Claire Knows Best

This Amish school shooting has just broken my heart. It seems like shootings are sweeping the nation, eight just since August. We had one in Southern Wisconsin, and a Columbine-like shooting was avoided a few weeks ago in Green Bay. But there's something about the shooting of these innocent little girls that is so horrific, I just can't get my mind around it. The Amish remove themselves from the world. They don't force their beliefs on us or go around making pronouncements of our doom or threats to our lives like other religions. They just try to live their lives quietly, the way they feel the Lord leads them to. There is good and bad in every community, but it seems an extra sin to drag our evil into their sheltered lives.

Murder in Little Italy by Victoria Thompson is the eighth entry in the Gaslight Mystery series featuring New York midwife Sarah Brandt and her occasional suitor Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy. A young pregnant Irish girl marries into an Italian family, but when her baby arrives “prematurely” and roly-poly fat, the family turns on her. The next morning the girl is dead, and as Sarah and Frank try to investigate the Black Hand gets involved and no one is talking. Thompson handles the issue of discrimination and prejudice well without assigning blame to either side. She also works in some great New York history into the story without it feeling forced. The chemistry between Frank and Sarah continues to grow, and the subplots with their families are intriguing and don’t interfere with the mystery. My only disappointment is that I have to wait for the next installment to come out!

Claire Knows Best by Tracey Bateman is the sequel to Leave it to Claire. I love Claire; she’s so much like me! After a tornado destroys much her home, Claire has to deal with her boyfriend’s decision to become a pastor, her daughter’s acting out, her ex-husband’s pregnant wife, and she’s lost her writing contract. How can you juggle all of that pressure? Claire doesn’t, God bless her! She makes mistakes and tries to control everyone and everything around her. Bateman writes Claire with a great deal of honesty, and that makes Claire lovable in spite of regular missteps. While she slips a little, many of the lessons of the previous book remain. Like Claire, I tend to stay within my home and small comfort zone, but Jesus calls us to be His disciples out in the world. Claire learns that as she comforts, she is comforted and that she is capable of far more than she realized.

Today is Mia's first day of school; I think we're both a little nervous. Hopefully she'll settle in to class just fine, and then I can go to work. If not... Pray for us both!