Thursday, June 18, 2009

Christian Fiction Review: "How Sweet It Is."

"How Sweet it is," by Alice J. Wisler is a Christian fiction novel that did not satisfy my sweet tooth. Though the book is targeting those that want to have a fairly light-hearted read, I felt the book lacked anything inventive in the story line and was extremely predictable.

Deena Livingston is a young woman that recently survived a serious car wreck that left her body, as well as her heart, severely scarred. Leaving a promising career behind as a chef, she tentatively looks for a fresh start in a small mountain cabin that her grandfather willed to her when he passed away. She moves from the big city to a small, close-knit community, hoping to begin a cake-decorating business of her own while ditching her past.

Much to her surprise, there is a stipulation in her grandfather's will. He would like for her teach cooking to troubled kids at an after school program for six months in order to enjoy ownership of his cozy cabin. This is something way out of her comfort zone (especially now that her heart is so relationally raw; all she wants to do is insulate herself from any emotional pain). But day by day, she finds the strength to move ahead, even though it feels like baby steps... and often like she is moving backwards instead.

There are many poignant moments: Ms. Wisler writes in the first person, present tense, and she keeps you inside Deena's thoughts as she tries to move on and forget her past. Using flashbacks, it is evident that rather than moving ahead, she is nursing her wounds with the balm of unforgiveness. It takes learning of her grandfather's faith (faith that she once had but presently lies dormant), stretching herself to reach out to the troubled kids she must teach, and allowing herself to trust some new relationships for her inner turmoil to begin to heal.

If you are looking for a lighthearted read, this book would certainly meet that need. Personally, I felt much of the thought life too neatly packaged and the story line blatantly obvious. I like a little twist or some sort of surprise along the way. This story, though charming in parts, generally falls flat and tastes bland. During the process of reading the book, I began to have my own nickname for it: "How Predictable It Is."

1 comment:

Alice J. Wisler said...

Hi Heather,

Sorry you didn't enjoy my second novel, How Sweet It Is.

~ Alice J. Wisler
author of Rain Song, How Sweet It Is and two more novels coming out in 2010 and 2011.

At the Intersection of Creation and Evolution: A Dream

The alliterating story below is based on a dream I had several years ago. Please contact me for permission to reproduce.

Darkness devours me.

I am enveloped in emptiness.

Are my eyes open or are they closed? I strain against this shroud of night and still see nothing.

What is this place?

An image illuminates in front of me. A large, leafy tree streaks past and vanishes.

It deserts me to the darkness again.

In a moment, more images appear. A rapid succession of snapshots and thoughts clamor before my eyes and mingle in my mind.

I see seedlings. Several supple shoots have emerged before me and then swiftly stream away.

“The first trees on earth were not seedlings”, my mind observes. “They were not created as small insignificant saplings.”

That thought is rapidly replaced with a vision of a man.

He’s maybe 30; he is muscular and needs to shave.

He fades away.

In his place I see an infant.

A tiny bundle of pink skin upon a soft blanket flickers briefly in my brain.

“Man was created with age,” is the next statement I hear. “Adam did not begin his life as a baby, he began as a grown man.”

The voice seems like my own.

The thoughts do not.

Reeling before me now is a blur of rivers, forests, mountains and even layers of the earth. It is like a movie rushing rapidly before my retina.

The soundtrack of this epic is proclaiming a peculiarly plain concept:

“The earth was created with age. Creation and evolution are not in total opposition. There is a reason that science finds the earth to be quite old: it was made that way.”

Thoughts continue to tumble through my mind; pictures parade before me. I listen in amazement to what seems to be puzzlingly profound and yet rather apparent all at once.

“Adam was created as an adult. Trees and plants were made fully grown.”

I suddenly feel quite certain that, if I were to chop down some of the trees that had been spoken into existence, I would find a range of rings running through their trunks.

“The earth was brought to life with age built into it… just like Adam. He did not begin life as an infant. The earth came into being with what it would need to sustain the life that was created. It was old when it was young. The world was
made with maturity; it was also produced with purpose.”

These thoughts are thrilling. Why had I not seen this before? It seems so simple. Obtusely obvious. Had others not observed this correlation? If they had, why wasn’t it being candidly conveyed?

In the span of thirty seconds I have been ravaged by a radical revelation. I feel the weight of its worth resting on me; it is tantamount to tangible.

I am neither a theologian nor am I a scientist. I don’t claim that the ethics of evolution are completely compatible with the Bible’s account of creation. But certainly Science can come concurrent to creation and affirm our faith with facts.

Of course, the Omnipotent Originator of the Universe is exceedingly elusive to what our mind could ever envision. Above what science could ever extensively elucidate.

Accordingly, creation is confounding too. Each diverse discovery deems it more marvelous to grasp. Many scientists have reluctantly relented to the theory of Intelligent Design.

That’s why, alongside those facts, we also need faith.

Lying inexplicably at the intersection of those two essential elements is an exceptional endowment: the intermittent insight of our dreams.