Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Reviewing something I normally don't read...

Bad Connection (The Secret Life Samantha McGregor) Melody Carlson

I don't read much Christian fiction and many of the Christian fiction readers that I work with don't want anything supernatural or fantasy because it conflicts with how they practice their faith--to the point where I've had long conversations saying that yes, it was OK for a Christian school to assign The Chronicles of Narnia. (It's about Jesus! I promise!)

So, imagine my surprise when I find out that Samantha McGregor is about a girl who receives visions of the future from God. Both Carlson (via author note) and Samantha (via text) are very careful to say that she is NOT psychic and that these visions are from God, complete with scriptural text to provide back-up that it could happen.

In this book, Samantha's friend has gone missing. She's run away before, but Samantha has seen visions to lead her to believe that this isn't a case Kayla running away from home, that something much more sinister is going on. Samantha can't control the visions and doesn't necessarily want the burden of such a gift, but maybe she can use them to help save her friend.

I'm always a little wary of Christian fiction because I've been really turned off with some explorations of faith in that "all people who don't agree with my view on religion are fundamentally evil, evil people and will all go to Hell. The End." (Left Behind, I'm looking at you) Also, I just have a lot of general angst about being non-Christian in a rather Christian environment. But, I really enjoyed Carlson's very personal (to the character) approach in the way religion was dealt with in how each character approaches his or her faith (or lack thereof). Samantha and her more religious friends got some good-natured ribbing for praying at lunch, but in general their faith was respected, and, at the same time, Samantha didn't condemn those around her who didn't believe. This makes the book much more realistic (at least in my experience with my very observant friends).

The mystery/adventure was also very enjoyable completely separate from the religious aspects, but I loved the explorations of Samantha's struggles with her gifts, and with God for giving them to her/saddling her with them.

Book Provided by... my library

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Liz B said...

Melody Carlson is terrific.

My thing about Christian fiction; as a Catholic, I don't want fic that has that moment where I'm told Catholics aren't Christian/ aren't doing it right.

There was a romance I read a few years ago, when I was on my Love Comes Softly kick (tho only the first few books were good, IMHO) were I read one that I enjoyed where the girl inherited a bar/maybe brothel in the old west. Let me see if I can find it.

Amy said...

I haven't read this, but I've had it around...

You know some CHristians like the really out there supernatural stuff as long as it's framed as spiritual warfare. (I don't like this stuff so much)

Liz, I totally get that and while not Catholic that stuff annoys me too. Have you read Claudia Mair Burney or Lisa Samson? Both are former evangelicals now Catholic.

Jennie said...

Liz B-- ergh. I bet that sucks more than the moment where I'm told I'm going to hell because I don't believe, because at least I knew that going into the book.

Amy-- Yes, I know lots of Christians who enjoy fantasy and horror and other supernatural things. My frame for Christian fiction though is usually in the capacity of reader's advisory and in the community I work in, many people are against such things and that's why they're looking for Christian fiction in the first place, because they know it will be
safe. So, it initially took me aback a bit to see Christian fiction with such elements.

Amy said...

Re-reading my comment I see I wasn't very clear....I wasn't trying to say there are Christians who like fantasy and horror (of course there are) but that some more fundamental Christians who reject stories like Narnia will still embrace supernatural books as long as it's all framed as spiritual warfare. I only commented on it, because it's something I don't understand and puzzle over often. But that's a whole different thing. :) Anyway just wanted to clear that up.

Jennie said...

Amy-- I get you now! Interesting. I did not know that. Hmmm... I'll have to ask some of my clergy-friends about any insights they may have...