Who would have thought so many people would take the time to suggest titles to a Christian Fictionally challenged librarian? Who would have thought it would be so hard to decide what Christian fiction is?
Is a Christian novel one that “expounds and illustrates a Christian world view in its plot or characters, or both” (and Wikipedia says it is). Is it a novel by a Christian? Or is it a novel about Christians?
Or all of the above?
Last weekend, in a guilty time out from the Five Book Challenge, I ignored the small Francine Rivers sitting reproachfully on the bedside table in favour of the new Anne Lamott Imperfect Birds. Reasoning that I had a duty to get it read as soon as possible as it had come in on hold for me and had a reserve list I did little else but fulfill that duty for a day or so.
About half way through I realised I could let the guilt go as this novel meets all the criteria for Christian fiction; it expounds a Christian world view, it features characters who are Christians and it is by a Christian who writes moving and meaningful non-fiction about faith.
Imperfect Birds is the story of 17-year-old Rosie and her parents, Elizabeth and James. They seem to be the ideal family, reassuringly imperfect but loving and warm. Except that beautiful Rosie is drinking, taking every drug she can lay her hands on (and that’s a lot) and lying through her teeth about it.
This is a wonderful novel, about humans who, in Lamott’s words, need something that might not be God but may be god, and is definitely ‘not me’. It’s full of people who try their best to live according to their beliefs, looking for ways to serve and hoping that a connection with a higher power will keep themselves and their children safe. My faith in Christian Fiction is restored.
Julie Myerson, who wrote about her own family’s battle with a child’s addiction in The Lost Child, reviewed Imperfect Birds in The New York Times Book Review. In that review Myerson said that “all addict’s families are alike, and when it comes to teenage drug abusers they’re unnervingly alike, right down to the last battering detail.”
Should you be in the mood for some more battering details, I recommend: