Saturday, April 11, 2009

EMBRACE ME by Lisa Samson

THE SUMMARY: For a majority of this book, this story takes place years apart. One is the story of Valentine, aka Lizard Woman, who travels with a group of other freaks in a sideshow troup. A tragic event disfigured her face years before, and she struggles with past demons that won't allow her to move forward. Befriended by a tatooed, hippie, motercycle-ridin' monk, she struggles with redemption and forgiveness. The second tale is about a former high-profile preacher named Drew that now has a tendancy to extinguish his cigarettes on his skin to release his inner turmoil. Their lives eventually cross in a small North Carolina town, both discovering the meaning of true forgiveness and redemption.

THE MESSAGE: Although this story dealt heavily with learning to forgive and be forgiven, and the miracle of a redeemed and renewed life, I'm amazed at Lisa Samson's ability to help the reader see beyond the facade of the people we see every day into the pain of their hearts. And even though the characters in this book are far from normal--a limbless woman, stretch-man, simese twins, a mother who deserted her child, a father with too-high standards--it's a beautiful thing to see these individuals used in the Body of Christ, His church. Too often, our fiction heroes are perfect, but this story presents people who are learning to walk through their mistakes and failures.

THE PRESENTATION: The two stories take place approximately six years apart. Drew's tale is told in a letter he writes to a priest willing to listen. It's an interesting way of storytelling, and worked most of the time. The other first-person perspective comes from Valentine, and every chapter switches between the two storytellers. Where Quaker Summer sometimes fell into preaching, this story lets the characters' actions and thoughts do the talking. It's somewhat a slow start, but once you figure out where it's heading, hang on.

THE QUOTE: "It's never too late for redemption. The scars never run too deep, so deep that God is not there."



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