For anyone who doesn’t know, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone debuted 20 years ago today. How are you going to celebrate?
Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos
Reviewed by Kendra Nicole (https://kendranicole.net/)
Cornelia and her husband, Teo, are relatively newlywed urbanites who have recently settled down in suburban Philadelphia, where they hope to start a family. As a former city dweller, Cornelia finds herself out of place in her sorority-like neighborhood and has particular trouble with her overbearing and judgmental neighbor, Piper. Cornelia finds a solitary friend in Lake, another newcomer to town whose secret past keeps the two women from establishing the intimacy Cornelia desires.
As the story continues, the focus shifts away from Cornelia (whose chapters are written in first person) to those of two other characters: Lake’s precocious teen son, Dev, and Piper, the neighbor who seems determined to make Cornelia’s life miserable. We learn that, while Piper seems shallow and vicious, she is experiencing trials of her own, neglecting her own husband as she cares for the family of her best friend who is dying of cancer. We also gain insight into Lake’s past as Dev embarks on a hunt for the father who left his mom before he was born. These three main characters—Piper, Dev, and Cornelia—are all searching for the one person to whom they belong, but along their journeys, they stumble into the messiness of relationship and discover that connection and belonging are hard to come by and are often found in the least expected places.
I was surprised by the depth of this book that I thought would be breezy chick-lit. The writing is strong and the characters are multidimensional and intriguing, as are their stories and relationships. There’s quite a bit going on in this book and though I didn’t care for the three different storylines at first, I liked seeing the ways in which they intersected and eventually came together. The novel raises a few interesting ethical issues and sheds light on personality traits/disorders (always an area of interest for me), and for the most part, these weightier aspects simply move the story forward rather than dragging it down.
I hadn’t realized until after reading the book that this is actually a sequel to Love Walks In, so I’m looking forward to reading that one in the future.
My Rating: 4 stars.
The Great Spiritual Migration: How the World’s Largest Religion is Seeking a Better Way To Be Christian by Brian D. McLaren
Reviewed by Rev. Matthew J. Seargeant
As a former Christian conservative pastor, Brian McLaren has some perspective and insight into the mindset of that tradition. Yet, some of his recent publications have set him at odds with past allies, many of whom have branded him a heretic. In The Great Spiritual Migration, McLaren points out some troubling aspects of modern Christianity, while contending (accurately, I believe) that these are often the result of poor scholarship and bad theology. Perhaps most importantly, he reminds us that while this faith has traditionally been about movement (a journey), as well as evolution of thought and action, the Church is designed for self-preservation, institutionalization, and stagnation. This has led to a migration away from the Church, toward a more organic [my word] spirituality. McLaren believes the Church can and should find a way to step into this void. He continually suggests that following Jesus requires us to act in love and inclusivity. And, while he doesn’t offer easy solutions, I believe his hope is to open the eyes of the reader to the reality facing Christianity, and to help lead toward intentional work toward solutions for the future.