Every Good & Perfect Gift

I met author Sharon Souza in 2006 at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference. We were both in a mentoring group headed up by Gayle Roper. As part of the seminar, each participant was to critique twenty pages of the other members’ works-in-progress.

Right away, Sharon impressed me with her writing skill. Needless to say, it was a thrill to learn a year later that she had a book contract with NavPress. And now her debut novel is in book stores. Every Good & Perfect Gift “adeptly portrays the strengths of friendship, and the wonderful but often difficult relationships between mothers and daughters,” as the Publisher’s Weekly review says.

What it doesn’t mention is how realistic the characters are and how significant the story is. Written in the first person, but as much about another character as the “I,” the novel gives unique voices to both. And makes the reader care for both.

This book is not light weight. It “adeptly” deals with serious issues (not just friendship, though in saying “just” I’m not implying that friendship isn’t a worthy topic to explore. Rather, this novel goes beyond that scope and treats something bigger) and “Souza laudably refuses to succumb to a pat ending that neatly ties up all the loose ends.” Rather than frustrating, this ending seemed to me like the only one possible.

At one point, the PW review called Every Good & Perfect Gift “poignant.” That’s a good word to describe the story. “Sad” is inaccurate because the story has more to say than “what happened in the end.” Besides, in places, the journey to the end is itself poignant.

At times I was laughing, at other times I wanted to shake one or both characters, but in the end I cried. And cried. If one sign of a successful novel is that it evokes emotion in the reader, then Sharon Souza has written one very successful novel.

Mind you, it is most definitely women’s fiction. It is contemporary, and it may touch on some raw edges for some people. But in so doing, it also might help those readers process what is almost an untouchable subject (or subjects) among Christians.

Yes, this book is also overtly Christian, but without any platitudes or pretension. It is simply a moving story, one that touched me even though I am far from the target audience. Good books have a way of doing that.

Published in: on February 21, 2008 at 11:37 am  Comments (5)  
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