Thursday, January 30, 2014

Runaway Saint - by Lisa Samson

Sara has only vague memories of her Aunt Belinda, since she left when Sara was four.  She really only has vague memories of her childhood in general, including an imaginary friend named Jason, and not knowing why her parents divorced, or why Aunt Belinda left and didn't come back.  Until now, twenty years later, when Bel shows up at her father's house, and Sara's parents ask her to take her aunt into her home for awhile.  What happened to Belinda while she was gone?  Why did she leave in the first place?  What happened to strain the sisters' relationship?  What will this arrival do to Sara's content, if not happy, life?

There is no good way to summarize this book, and the cover copy I read before agreeing to review it did the book no justice.  This book is about so much more than Belinda and her mysterious departure and return.  It's about Sara, and what the hidden details of Belinda's life do to Sara's own - her memories, her faith, her future choices.  Sara was so well written, and her viewpoint so open, that I felt her every emotion, her humor, her doubts, and her ties to the people around her, even when those relationships were confusing.  I loved how she was amused by those around her, describing her mother, she says "She sleeps year-round in a tent on an organic farm where she works and lives.  It's find.  Go ahead and let that sink in."  She can see the trappings of modern worship: "God is God no matter what.  I don't have to have the perfect experience.  Because, let's face it, I"m not the perfect Christian," but let herself experience God in simplicity: "'Let the words of my mouth and the mediation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.' The words are like water, washing the outside world away." Her realization that people see Jesus in different ways encourages readers to search for who Jesus is to them, while allowing that it's okay to struggle through the answer.

This is not a "happy" book.  But it is a great book.  The relationships are quirky, somewhat dysfunctional, but oh so real.  The faith and doubts and discussion of what a missionary really is and what a church service really needs to look like were thought-provoking and perhaps convicting at times.  This book was one to savor and I see myself re-reading it to get even more out of it.  It also makes me want to re-read The Sky Beneath My Feet, which I did not realize was connected to this book until I got to the part about St. Rick having stayed in a shed for a month, which sparked my memory and made me want to re-visit their story as well.

I give this book 5 stars - deep characters, great writing, and wanting to read the book again - all signs of a favorite.

You can find Runaway Saint HERE.
You can find Lisa Samson's website HERE, although it looks like it hasn't been updated in awhile.
Here's an interesting article about Lisa taking a break before The Sky Beneath My Feet.

I received this book from Thomas Nelson, in exchange for my honest review.

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