Let’s start out this year by congratulating exceptional writing.
I read a lot of books. I have to admit, most books leave me with just one memory of what I liked about them. I may remember a single scene or a turn of phrase or perhaps a clever plot point.
But a book rises to the top of my favorites lists when it leaves me with many memories. Furthermore, I classify it as a significant book when those qualities not only impress me, but change me.
Such a book is The Passion of Mary Margaret by Lisa Samson. As a reader, I was impressed with the way she dragged me along with her protagonist into situations that demanded a moral decision and then demonstrated how courage and obedience to God can enable someone to not only survive a “hard teaching” from God but triumph in it.
This book changed how I look at romantic love. I will never be the same after reading this book.
I hope that more readers will want to buy this book. This book is good reading because of its unusual premise, the clever “frame” format, a wealth of compelling details and wry dialogue and humor and gut-wrenching scenarios.
I also hope writers buy this book to study its craftsmanship. I learned from it. For instance, it takes skill to effectively pull off a first-person narration with that many flashbacks without frustrating the reader. There are too many examples of other subtle literary proficiencies to list in a single post, but one I particularly admired.
Previously here on NM we’ve discussed how to insert the literary equivalent of what we call a “rest” in music – what would in a movie be filled with music or something else while a character stays silent in the midst of a conversation.
Samson inserted a pause by giving a description:
Halfway to the dock, Gerald took hold of my arm with his other hand. “Stop just a minute, Mary-Margaret. I’m getting a little breathless.”
We stood in front of a span of eelgrass, the ribbon leaves swirling in the gentle ebb of the water.
He rested his hand atop his head, then rubbed. “Used to be I could drag you along.”
Did you see it? Not only is the reader snagged away from the next line of dialogue, made to wait, to count out a caesura, but the description is itself of something that is silent and filled with motion that designates time.
That’s exceptional writing, and I salute Lisa Samson. May God give her a long life and many more books to bless us.
What exceptional Christian book have you read lately?