Monday, December 28, 2009

Becca By The Book

Having friends who are authors expands my reading horizons, as I take an interest in books that might not have otherwise caught my eye – whether that be a book of wacky quotes (CRAZY JANET) or chick-lit murder mysteries (KILLER COCKTAIL).

And thus it was a friendly author that got me to read BECCA BY THE BOOK, a “Getaway Girl” novel from a Christian publishing imprint.

I trusted author Laura Jensen Walker when she asked me to read the book, because I knew her witty writing from her cancer-survivor novel (RECONSTRUCTING NATALIE), and because she knew me – mostly that I had little interest in chick-lit (unless someone is murdered, thank you Sheryl), romance (unless in comedy, preferably starring Sandra Bullock) or contemporary Christian fiction that has prominent shelf space at Christian book stores.

Laura knows me, and she said don’t worry. And I needn’t have.

Chick-lit? Not so bad, as Becca, the heroine/narrator of BECCA BY THE BOOK is not girly (like her roommate Kailyn).

Mushy romance? Again, nope, as Becca is not defined by her search for a mate.

Christian fiction? Here’s where Laura did me proud: Becca is decidedly not a Christian. The novel does take her into that world, but as an outsider looking in, with plenty of comedic ammunition to prevent this from becoming a “this is for the choir” type book.

It is Laura’s comedic pov that makes this book a delightful read. The Getaway Girl books are about a women’s book club; each book is from the point of view of a different member, this one being Becca’s turn.

Snarky, non-conformist, and “says what I’m thinking” honest, she finds herself in trouble when she makes a bet with her club to prove she can commit: the next guy to ask her out gets three months before being shown the door.

Except the next guy to ask her out is churchy (Becca isn’t), and insists that most of their dates be to church functions. And that’s where the fun flies, as Becca gets to play “guess the famous woman of faith” at the high tea (who the heck is Esther and how come she doesn’t have a last name – is she like Madonna or Cher or something?), spend a long ride in the van with Bible thumper Donald (who just loves to hide Bible tracks in her pockets), and walk through the kitsch sales aisle at the Church Convention (“Blood of the Savior Red” nail polish, anyone? If only such things were confined to fiction…)

As Becca searches for her own sense of meaning, it helps to have a sense of humor along for the ride. And this is an enjoyable ride.

Along the way, Becca makes a list of Christian phrases that she doesn’t understand, so her churchy friends can help translate. The “Getaway Girls Guide to Christianese” is included in the back of the book, and worth the read all of its own.

My favorite: “Be in the world and not of: Kind of like Lucky Charms cereal; there are lots of pretty marshmallows in with the cereal, but they’re not the same. So live with the cereal, but remember: you’re a pretty marshmallow.”

Here’s hoping some smart publisher gets Laura to expand the Guide to book length.

Just my thoughts,



Mary said...

Hi Sean,
I have read all of Laura Jensen Walker's books and met her at a Women of Faith conference and talked to her because you've knew her. She is very witty and very down to earth. I love her books and am looking forward to reading this new one.
I have passed her Reconstructing Natalie on to many who have had breast cancer and they have thouroughly enjoyed it. It was just the right thing! I have also passed all her other books on to Becky. I am a true fan of hers.
Thanks for letting me know about this new one.

David Goulet said...

I like to think of myself as a marshmallow among the Count Chocula cereal -- a cereal killer of vampires. Kind of like the breakfast Blade.