Thursday, March 29, 2007

Book Review - Quaker Summer


As you may be aware, this is a blog hosted by sisters. It just so happens that myself (Robin) and my sister (Leah) are avid readers of Lisa Samson, and have recently been sent a book Quaker Summer.

Robin:
It never fails- I pick up a Lisa Samson book, and I am hooked, focused and inspired every time. I take pride in the collection of them that reside on my bookshelf and often go back for a re-read when looking for some comfort. What I find is a very honest hard look at life circumstances, and another pushing the envelope type of issue. These are real issues, for real people. This latest book Quaker Summer moved me in a whole new way. Through following Lisa’s blog over the last months I can see some of this taking place in her own life. The main character Heather is at the crossroads of discovering her true call in life. Currently maintaining the all American Dream she is challenged on a deeper level, to take a look at meaning of it all, and what really matters. There are two options for her really: one is to continue what she’s been doing for the last several years- make the checkmarks on the lists, do what is supposed to be done, or she can take the risk taking and rewarding alternative. The scenic route if you will. It is often easier to stay on the road most traveled, but Heather takes the plunge and enters a whole new world of new priorities, people and challenges. Inspiring really, and another good opportunity to ask myself what road I may be on. What kind of challenges have I taken, comfort zones broken through, or taken an opportunity to invest in another persons life? Kinda reminds me of what a very wise Man once said: “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” -Jesus.
Thank you Lisa for being the voice behind so many people. For speaking out what most of us are too ashamed to say or admit to otherwise. In doing so we find growth and healing.
Leah:
Ever since Robin introduced me to Lisa Sampson's work through Women’s Intuition, I've been hooked. Why? Her novels are real, thought- provoking, emotional - both laughter and tears - and draw my attention back to the Almighty God. I connect with the characters and can relate to their stories. She does much justice to the genre of Christian Fiction. She is a remarkable story-teller - clever with language, plot and character development. There is no fluff here!!
Quaker Summer is no exception. In our individualistic, self-serving age, we need constant reminders that living out Micah 6:8 is a necessary part of the Christian life. What trappings do we use as an excuse not to live as Christ did? What does it cost us to make the necessary life changes? What people does God bring into our lives to draw us to Himself so that we may worship Him and live lives that reflect His glory? Deep issues handled with crafty brilliance in a story that is witty, insightful and clear in its challenge!
And where else can you find a story that includes a drug dealer, a materialist, a 90-year-old woman who still gets jailed for her protests, a 15-year-old son, a crusty nun, a woman who used to take prayer requests on a 1-800 number and a strung-out upper class project planner? Oh Lisa, where do you come up with these characters!?
"It's funny how these two women have such a drastically different slant on the same God. Anna relies on the Spirit, has such a gentle, ethereal faith that works itself out in the sadness of others. Liza has jumped into Jesus' arms and said, "Let's go, good buddy!" And they gallop off together in search of the most awful places where their presence will make the most difference. Doing justice, loving mercy, walking humbly with God. That's the sisters. And isn't that in the Bible somewhere? Can I be a little of both someday, Lord? Someday when I grow up? A little of Anna, a little of Liza - and a little of my dad. I want to be like my dad too."

Interview with Lisa Samson:

Robin: You are truly an inspiration to me and many, and your characters seem so real! Are they based on personal life experiences, or case study?
Lisa: Some of Heather's experiences are mine, particularly cutting rot off of tomatoes and getting caught singing Pink at the soup kitchen. But the characters themselves, at least in this novel, aren't based on anyone in particular. Except for Sister Jerusha. I saw a documentary called Sister Helen, and I utilized that dear departed nun's basic personality for my book. It's a great movie, by the way. Salty language, but it really showed me that God uses anybody who longs to be used by Him. I highly recommend it.
Robin: Who is Heather C. to you?
Lisa: Heather is every woman who feels chained by her life choices and her possessions. Who asks, "Why did we have to get that new car (or house), up our payments, when the old one was fine? Why do I make bad choices? Why do I give my life for worldly possessions and get in my own way of serving God?" Heather's every woman who wonders why all the bible study, prayer, serving in church still doesn't make her feel any closer to God? In short, she's a lot like me in that way.
Robin: How has your own walk/ growth in life changed or inspired your topics that you write about?
Lisa: The general experience of changing life from one of insular churchiness to one of "putting yourself out there" is a journey our family took, and is still taking, as well. We sold our big suburban home and moved to an urban area so we could be confronted by issues of need more regularly. I'm still reeling from it, but I'm certain it's where God led us.
Leah: How do you weave characters into multiple books?
Lisa: I have a basic story idea, and then sometimes, I think, "You know, [insert name] would be a great supporting role here. Let's resurrect her!" The people who read my books are always glad when I do that. I like to give them the emotional hit, and I like reacquainting myself with old friends. The fact that I limit my books to mostly Baltimore, Lexington and my fictional town of Mount Oak, really helps me do that as well.
Leah: Where is your favourite spot to write? Do you use a laptop or old fashioned paper and pencil :)?
Lisa: I use a laptop for the most part. Every once in a while I get out pen and paper. My favourite spot to write is a cabin we have in Red River Gorge KY. No internet. I can be a writing fiend there. Here in town, my ADD mangles up all my plans most days. Sometimes I write in the car just to get out of the wireless zones. There isn't a coffee shop in Lexington now without wifi, so those days are gone.
Leah: Do you have a favourite character from your books?
Lisa: Charmaine Hopewell from Songbird is my favourite protagonist. She jumped into my head fully developed. Mildred LaRue and Prisma Percy are my favourite supporting roles. I really love my mentor characters. Although, I have to say, Anna and Liza, the mentors in Quaker Summer are dear to my heart, as well as Uncle Geoffrey from Straight Up. Leslie Summerville from Women's Intuition . . . well, you can see, I just love these people!
Leah: Where do you come up with some of this stuff?! A kangaroo in Baltimore!? (is it literal or figurative!:)? )
Lisa: Oh, literal! In fact, I got the idea from a news story a few years ago, where a kangaroo had gotten loose in Michigan or someplace and hopped into this lady's barn where it was finally captured. It was being transported to a zoo or something. So I know it sounds crazy, but, hey, it really could happen! Also, this was one of those rare occasions when I wanted to employ a God in the Machine device, and I wanted that to be unmistakable. Normally that's bad form in writing, but sometimes, in real life, God steps in so clearly, it might as well be a kangaroo. I decided to go over-the-top so the reader would know exactly what I was doing. Sometimes we can throw aside subtlety and it's okay. I try not to do that often, though!

Thank you so much Lisa! You are an inspiration and your writing is truly a gift!
God Bless
Love,
Leah & Robin.
Also - Check out Lisa's blog at http://lisasamson.typepad.com/

1 comment:

Jeryn said...

That's really cool - I loved the interview. Can't wait to check some of Lisa's books out. Robin - I may have to visit your "library"!