Book Review: “Words Unspoken” by Elizabeth Musser

September 2, 2009 at 12:47 am | Posted in Books | Leave a comment
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Words Unspoken book coverWords Unspoken by Elizabeth Musser is the story of a nineteen-year-old girl struggling to overcome her mother’s tragic death. Eighteen months earlier, Lissa Randall and her mother were driving on the highway when a freak hail storm showered down on them. Lissa skidded and stopped the car safely, but when her mother got out to switch drivers, she was struck down by another car. Lissa feels like a failure and at fault for her mother’s death. She searches for a way to overcome her grief and deal with her father’s attitude toward her. The book follows her journey trying to get in the driver’s seat again and get her license so she can have a renewed sense of freedom from her father, feelings of failure, and self-doubt.

But this book is not just about Lissa. It’s about several other characters as well. Two sisters, an older husband and wife who run a driving school, a hot-shot stock broker, and a young publisher’s assistant who is looking to get to the top. By the end of the book you understand why all these characters are involved, but for the first half or a little more you sit wondering why you’re reading about all these characters when really it’s Lissa’s story you want to hear. You may not understand why you are meeting all these new characters or why you should care about their story, but as you continue to read you will begin to realize how they all relate to each other.

This is an interesting read and I recommend it highly.

Book Review: Sometimes A Light Surprises by Jamie Langston Turner

September 2, 2009 at 12:28 am | Posted in Books | Leave a comment

The story of Sometimes A Light Surprises by Jamie Langston Turner revolves around Ben, a widower, who  has never recovered from the murder of his wife Chloe over 20 years ago. Chloe’s  death was especially hard to take because of how Ben treated her in the weeks just preceding. You see Chloe had become a Christian and was trying to get Ben to understand her new “conversion”.  Ben didn’t and tried to jolt her out of the religious kick she was on with his sarcasm and silence, it hadn’t worked.

The murder aftermath was so traumatic, he gave over the parenting of their four children to his mother  On account of that all these many years later he and his kids are still estranged.

When young, home-schooled Kelly Kovatch applies for a job at the Bazaar he owns and manages, he surprises himself by hiring her. Maybe it’s more curiosity than anything, because she has the same last name as the religious woman who befriended and beguiled Chloe just before her death.

After Kelly comes to work things begin happening. His daughter plans a family holiday and invites Ben.  He takes up Chloe’s Bible again.  When Kelly’s own mother dies, he makes a point of finding out how her father is coping.  Little changes become big ones as he thaws in the warmth of Kelly’s shy concern and compelling advice.

The book is full of wonderful characters.  Caroline, Ben’s secretary, is convinced Ben is a little crazy with his obsession over the origins of phrases and his office littered with lists. She, herself, has a hate on for men but a love of mysteries. Some of Ben’s family, especially his driven eldest daughter Shelly, and the bitter Erin, are interesting studies. Then there’s Kelly herself — earnest, sincere, devout, likeable — but so naïve and sheltered it’s almost as if she’s from another galaxy.

Not surprisingly, family is a theme Turner has woven through the book.  Ben’s family is certainly dysfunctional but in Sometimes A Light Surprises there are second chances, grace and redemption. It doesn’t come in a blaze or flash but slowly.  Sometimes A Light Surprises is a quiet but moving and gracious story, with all kinds of wisdom and other delights found on its pages.

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