It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
***Special thanks to Rick Roberson The B&B Media Group, for sending me a review copy.***
As a child growing up on the campus of a Christian school where her parents taught, Neta Jackson began creating imaginary worlds at a young age. Loving horses but not having one, she wrote stories about them instead. By the time she reached high school, she had so honed both imagination and writing skills that when her English teacher submitted one of her stories to a Scholastic magazine writing contest, it won first place. With that first win, Jackson knew beyond the shadow of a doubt she wanted to be a writer. She’s been writing ever since.
After marrying the love of her life, Dave Jackson, the couple chose to settle in the Chicago area where Neta had attended college. Throughout their marriage, the Jacksons have worked together as a team, writing a multitude of books together on topics ranging from medical ethics to stories of gang kids, sometimes sharing the task with other experts who have served as co-writers. Together, they have also penned forty historical fiction accounts of Christian heroes, called the Trailblazer Books, along with another five-volume series called Hero Tales: A Family Treasury of True Stories from the Lives of Christian Heroes.
These days, both are busy penning their own works of adult fiction. Jackson began her individual effort in 2003 with the Yada Yada Prayer Group series, inspired by her real-life Bible study group, a multi-cultural gathering of dynamic women who have played an important role in her life for over fifteen years. Since publication of the first Yada Yada Prayer Group novel, the seven-book series has sold over a half-million copies and given rise to countless prayer groups across the country and the publication of a personal prayer journal for prayer group participants. In 2008, Where Do I Go?, her first book in the four-book House of Hope series, was published. The second book in the series, Who Do I Talk To?, won a Christy Award in 2010 for excellence in Christian fiction. Recently, the fourth book of the series, Who Is My Shelter?, was nominated for Best Inspirational Novel for 2011 by RT Book Reviews. Stand by Me is the first in Jackson’s new SouledOut Sisters series.
The Jacksons have been married 45 years and have raised two children plus a Cambodian foster daughter. They continue to live in urban Chicago where, together, they enjoy writing, gardening and spending time with their grandchildren.
Visit the author’s website.
How does God expect us to get along with those people who are always causing us pain? Are we supposed to keep helping those who repeatedly take advantage of us? Exactly what is the key to living in peace with difficult people? These are the questions award-winning author Neta Jackson addresses in her latest novel, Stand by Me (Thomas Nelson), the first book of her newest series, SouledOut Sisters.
Inspired by her own Bible study group, Jackson began several years ago to write about a multi-cultural gathering of dynamic women in a collection of books known as the Yada Yada Prayer Group series. Since publication of the first Yada Yada Prayer Group novel in 2003, the seven-book series has sold over a half-million copies and given rise to countless prayer groups across the country. Jackson followed the Yada Yada novels with the four-book House of Hope series. Though the series is not dependent upon its predecessors for understanding, Jackson has used the individual lives of familiar characters to introduce some of the more complex issues prevalent in our modern society. By allowing her characters to lead the way, Jackson has shed light on issues like drug addiction, the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS and even the racial conflicts that can so easily arise within any culturally diverse group.
In her newest work, Stand by Me, Jackson introduces her readers to Kathryn Davis, a young college student who has left her prestigious Phoenix family behind to move to Chicago after dropping out of medical school against her father’s protests. Her newfound faith in Christ helps temper the realization that she has stepped out of her family’s good graces, but does little to alleviate the pain of their rejection.
When Kat discovers the dynamic multi-cultural membership at Souled Out Community Church, she longs to be part of it. But her unconventional behavior and brash eagerness have not helped her win favor with the church members. And, much to her dismay, Avis Douglass, the one woman in the church whom she most admires and would love to know better, is the one who is the most aloof.
Kat has no idea that, after being confronted by a number of serious problems all at once, Avis and her husband, Peter, are beginning to question God’s will for their lives. Having been recently estranged from her HIV positive daughter and being worried about her welfare, Avis would like nothing more than to quietly retreat into the recesses of her faith and find the answers she seeks. Her attempts to do so, however, are thwarted at every turn by the flamboyant Kat, who has apparently decided to foist herself on their lives whether they want her to or not.
List Price: $15.99
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (March 13, 2012)
AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:
Kat Davies ducked into the billowing exhibition tent staked down in a large pasture in central Illinois like a grounded Goodyear blimp. She’d been at the Midwest Music Fest three days already—didn’t know it was a Christian festival until she got here—and needed a little respite from the music pulsing morning-till-night on the Jazz Stage, Gospel Stage, Alternative Stage, Rock Stage, Folk Stage, and a few more she’d forgotten.
Kathryn (Kat) Davies comes from a prominent Phoenix family, whose father wants her to go to med school so she could practice with him. After attending a Christian music fest, Kat becomes a Christian and drops out of med school and goes into education, creating a deeper chasm within her family. Kat also starts attending SouledOut Community Church in Chicago, a mixed race community of believers.
Avis Douglass is the principal of one of Chicago’s best performing elementary schools, an over-the-hill newlywed–second time around for her, a founding member of SouledOut Community Church, and one of its main worship leaders. Her faith and relationship with the Lord is strong. However, her estrangement from her daughter haunts her every day, though she prays diligently for her.
Kat’s dramatic enthusiasm for living the “sold-out” Christian life clashes with Avis’ more stable, reserved faith. Therein develops the ‘grain of sand’ irritation in Avis’ shoe, so to speak. How can they develop a relationship when they are so different? Kat appears so care-free and Avis has an estranged daughter.
Neta draws out Kat’s outspoken mannerisms that wreak havoc in Avis’ spiritual walk, wondering how she can become so unglued when this young student speaks out so brashly. Though Kat seems mostly oblivious to Avis’ feelings, the tension is heightened when Kat and her friends rent the condo below the Douglass’s, one of whom is a guy. A secret known only to Kat, Brygitta and Rochelle turns into a conundrum for Kat. New in her faith, Kat wonders how God will bring it all to pass.
Faith, praise and prayer, especially through the Yada Yada prayer group, permeate the story line, but Neta keeps you intrigued as to how God will answer those prayers. His ways are higher than ours!
I found the interactions between the different races at the church to be honest and sincere, as well as the characters. Avis’ thought life becomes known to the reader, which adds depth to the story. Tensions do arise, particularly after Pastor Clark’s death. The possibility of dissension and racism rear their ugly heads. How will it all be worked out? Will the church survive? The author does a wonderful job of working through all the circumstances that touch not only Avis, but her daughter and Kat in a way that melts your heart. The touch of humor helps to level out the stress and tension.
God brings difficult people into our lives. It’s not to make our lives miserable, but to bring us to maturity. Stand by Me is a book that shows how God brings out that maturity, though we are sometimes kicking and screaming. The touch of humor levels out the stress and tension. I would summarize Stand by Me by this, “Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” Proverbs 27:17