Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Queen of Sleepy Eye

I received a call from Mom this morning; she was rushing to see Grandma in the hospital. They had called and said that the family needed to come in right away. Of course, I'm immediately panicking and starting to plan what I need to do to run there myself. After Mom got to the hospital, she called back: false alarm, for now. Grandma has Congestive Heart Failure, and now she has an infection from it in her lungs. They couldn't give her too much of the blood transfusion for fear that it would throw her into heart failure. She's doing better now. She's coherent and the fever is down, but as hard as it is to say, it seems like this is the beginning of the end. Please keep us all in your prayers.

The Queen of Sleepy Eye by Patti Hill is a stand out book about the relationship between mother and daughter as well as faith of the heart instead of faith of the head. It's 1975, and Amy Montiero is finally breaking free from her mother Francie by going to college in California. But on the drive out there from Illinois, Francie gets sidetracked in the little town of Cordial, Colorado, and before Amy can say "Help!", she's working for the summer at a funeral home and trying to come up with another escape plan while Francie flirts her way through town. Amy is a fantastically three dimensional character. She's firm in her faith, until she starts visiting a hippie community where a handsome man named Falcon plies his trade making stained glass windows. He challenges her notions of what Christianity means and awakens feelings Amy was certain she knew how to control. Amy lives her life believing that her faith puts her above everyone else. She tolerates her mother's frequent failings, she shakes her head in disgust at the rigidity at the old ladies in the local church, and takes on a hippie family and an elderly widow as charity projects. Cracks start to show in her facade when first her best friend from home commits a sin Amy can't forgive, then a good friend is killed, bringing Amy to discover sin in her own heart. Hill writes Amy with compassion and humor. You can't help but love both her and Francie. The story is bookended with chapters about Amy and Francie 30 years later returning a stolen car. The two stories seem disconnected until Amy reaches out her hand in forgiveness and love to someone who least deserves it, offering up the grace she had learned so many years ago. Put this book on your must read list; it's a real winner!

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