Blue Like Jazz Comes in Two Flavors

Sometimes I like to do things backwards.  I’ll clean up the kitchen before enjoying the meal I just made.  I’ll back out of the garage before putting on my seatbelt.  I’ll eat the bottom of a muffin before the top.

Just in case you were wondering, Steve Taylor is the one in the middle.

Last fall I saw a special rough cut screening of Blue Like Jazz without having read the book.  I can hear all of you tsk, tsk, tsking as you read this post.  You’re saying, “You should never see a movie before reading the book it is based on.”  Yes, well, I didn’t know my husband and I were going to the screening until the night before when Steve Taylor called to personally invite us to attend.  Did that stop your tsking?

The only knowledge I had about the book was a forty-minute education provided by my husband Dale during our drive to the church where the screening took place.  What he told me didn’t make sense.  I couldn’t piece together what he said because, as Dale  assured me, “It is unlike any book you have ever read or will ever read.”  I wasn’t sure what to think when the lights dimmed and the crowd shifted its focus to the screen at the front of the church, so I chose to clear my mind.

As the scenes unfolded I found myself being absorbed into them. The quirky characters were unique yet real.  The story was unusual yet so familiar.  The dialogue was thought-provoking yet hilarious.  When the movie ended I sat silently for a few minutes, letting the weight of what had just transpired on the screen sink in.  I was moved, changed, and inspired.

The guys - Dale and Steve

Alas, in December I added the book to my pack as Dale and I boarded a plane for Guatemala.  I passed the hours away in a hammock overlooking Lake Atitlan while I stepped into Donald Miller’s world.  Within the first chapter I realized two things: 1) he is a clever writer who seamlessly weaves together stories; and 2) I would see into his heart and my own by the time I read the last page.

I suggest reading only a few chapters at a time and then taking a day or two off because thoughts, emotions, and prayers will come to mind that you will want to address.  Then you’ll get sucked right back in because you’ll want to know how situations will be resolved and where your heart and mind will be taken next.  Donald’s honesty will make you want to be honest with yourself about who you are and where your faith walk is headed.

The movie Blue Like Jazz opens April 13th.  Perhaps you should do things “forwards” by reading the book before seeing the movie.  Or maybe you like being backwards, too.

What was your reaction to reading Blue Like Jazz?  If you haven’t read it yet, are you going to read the book before seeing the movie? 

Make Space on Your Bookshelf for Firefly Lane

Being in relationships is not easy. Whether it’s a marriage, friendship, or family connection, having others in our lives takes a lot of effort:  emotionally we have to ride the waves of ups and downs; mentally we need to be present and active when speaking with or spending time with our special someone; and logistically we need to make space in our lives for those that matter.  Exhausting, right?  Yes, at times it is, but mostly it’s remarkably rewarding.

In her book firefly lane, Kristin Hannah is a master at weaving together the lives of two girls who were the most unlikely of friends: a nerd and Ms. Popular.  What begins as a tale of insecurities and second-guessing the other’s intentions turns into a life-long bond that carries them through the highs and lows of life for thirty years. 

Kristin Hannah’s ability to portray the different facets of relationships in a very real, deep-felt way sucks you into her characters’ journeys.  Like all of the books I have read by Kristin Hannah, firefly lane drew me into the characters so much that I felt their hurt, joy, frustration, betrayal, and peace.  I generally donate all of my books to charity after I’ve read them once; this book is different.  Firefly lane remains nestled between other books on my shelf as a reminder of how to create believable lives in my own creative writing.

What book have you read that had very real characters?

Check out Kristin Hannah’s other books on her blog.

Life is a Precious Gift

We watched the news and scoured the newspapers for information about the 7.0 earthquake that hit Port-au-Prince, Haiti on January 12, 2010.  We mourned while viewing pictures of the destruction and death, and sent financial and other types of donations to organizations to provide some much needed assistance to the poor people of Haiti.

Dan Woolley, though, was not as lucky as those of us who remained in the comfort of our homes, observing the catastrophe from many miles away.  When the earthquake ended, he found himself trapped below six levels of what used to be the Hotel Montana in Haiti.  What had once been an attractive and comfortable hotel where Dan rested between tasks he was working on for the Child Survival Program with Compassion International became a prison of darkness and danger.

Dan’s book Unshaken chronicles the story of his sixty-five hours of captivity beneath the concrete      mass of the Hotel Montana.  You will be forever changed once you have shared his emotional and spiritual journey: you will want to continually cultivate your relationships with God, family, and friends, and will be thankful for your life every day that God allows you to remain on Earth.

Check out Dan’s website and purchase his book at this link:  Unshaken by Dan Woolley

Find out what the Child Survival Program is at this link:  Compassion Child Survival Program

What book have you read lately that moved you spiritually or emotionally?

Life at the Westbury Arms

In The Awakening Angela Hunt weaves a tale of love, betrayal, achievements, disappointments, and mysterious unknowns all on one floor of the Westbury Arms building.  Aurora, the main character, is presented with a host of frightening yet freeing encounters that allow the reader to see into Aurora’s heart and experience the ebb and flow of her emotions.  One cannot help but relate to her losses and triumphs when Ms. Hunt uses great descriptive phrases such as, “without warning, anxiety crests inside me like a wave, breaks, and sends streamers of terror in every direction.”

The Awakening was the Finalist in ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year award.  It is only one of many contemporary style novels written by Ms. Hunt, as listed on her website.

Purchase The Awakening here

Thin Places Delivers

Moved and awakened.  That’s how I felt after reading Mary DeMuth’s memoir, Thin Places.  The honesty with which she repaints the story of her far from ordinary childhood and the mental struggles of her adulthood is refreshing and freeing.  As I read, I found myself recalling parts of my past with which I have and continue to struggle, but seeing them in a different light, a healing light.  I am in awe of the healing that has occurred in Mary’s heart and soul through the power of God, and see no reason why I can’t experience the same healing since my owns hurts pale in comparison to those she has experienced.

Mary’s eloquent use of words was riveting.  I couldn’t stop marveling at how well pieced together they were and how they enveloped me in the story.  I was with Mary through each of her experiences, seeing and feeling things as she did.  I yearn to be as graceful and real with my writing.

Purchase Thin Places here