I don’t often write book reviews of fiction. But this is one book I enjoyed and am pleased to write a review of it.
It didn’t long for me to identify with the church, the characters, the interactions. I have been in Lutheran churches for 65 years. This felt like home in many ways.
Highlights were the author’s ability to reveal each character’s personality in a believable way. Too often authors of Christian fiction seem to idealize the hero/heroine, and then paint the really bad characters in the worst light. In this book, each character is presented honestly, warts, sins, fears, and all. For Emily and Pastor Fletcher, the two main characters, the process of revelation follows church life. With sometimes surprising and funny results.
The situations reflect real life in many ways, very accurately. Conflicts happen because of vested interests, and because of people’s dislike for others. But as Katie reveals, sometimes the conflict comes from the issues of previous churches, previous relationships, including the hurts, disappointments, etc.
While there are several examples how to handle conflict from a Biblical perspective, the author also leaves some issues unresolved, or with renewed tensions… just like in real life. Sometimes addressing fellow Christians brings about immediate reconciliation, other times the relationship becomes exacerbated, and still other times time is necessary for the words to take effect. Schuermann offers examples of each.
The book also offers insight in the funny side of church life. I knew early on that the author captured such humor, not at the expense of others, but at the exposure of truths that we often do not want to face. By smiling, we can nod our heads and say, Yes.”
As a matter of fact, Karl and every other man in the congregation had learned early on to never contradict the women of the Ladies Aid Society when it came to the subjects of food service, kitchen organization, coffee creamer brands, liquid soap scents,… (p. 29)
Also, some of the character sketches give background to more than advancing the plot. A character’s reflections inward and on other people adds considerably to understanding the insights that people have, and also observations that are accurate, and coming from surprising characters.
I’m glad I had the chance to read this book. I encourage people to get the book and read it, and re-read it. Thanks, Katie, for an insightful, humorous, and engaging story. My highest compliment to the author is this: Yes, I could move my membership to Zion Lutheran, and feel right at home.