Monday, March 23, 2009

Saints in the City

Saints in the City
by Andie Andrews

(Outskirts Press / 1-432-71104-0 / 978-1-432-71104-7 / December 2008 / 372 pages / $19.95 / Amazon $14.36 / Kindle $5.59)

Reviewed by Donna Nordmark Aviles for PODBRAM

Based on the Biblical precept, do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing so some have entertained angels without knowing it, Andie Andrews’ Saints in the City is a remarkable story that explores the easily overlooked connections between Heaven and Earth. If you are one to steer clear of the Christian Literature genre, I urge you to put any preconceived notions aside and give Saints in the City a try. The biblical aspects of this book are so easily and naturally woven into the overall story – a story of love and compassion, as well as betrayal and abuse – that you may well be turning pages late into the night.

Helen Baldwin, a transplanted Appalachian, finds herself living in urban New Jersey with her new husband Todd, an overworked Baptist minister. While Todd pursues his dream of becoming a famous televangelist at the expense of his relationship with his wife, Helen finds a sense of belonging and purpose working at the local soup kitchen. There she finds her own ministry of sorts as she spends time with the homeless, the mentally ill, the drug addicts and the war ravaged vets who frequent the center for a warm meal. When she becomes particularly drawn to one visitor, Helen risks the security of her well planned life to discover the connection that both reaches into her past and is destined to become her future.

The author provides just the right amount of descriptive prose to drop you smack in the middle of each scene, along with well-developed characters and surprising plot twists that kept this reader fully engaged right through to the last paragraph where the final, surprise connection was revealed. Suitable for the young adult through mature reader, Saints in the City will challenge you to look more deeply at those damaged by life’s demons and realize that through love and faith – and a few good connections – healing is possible.

Technically, I would recommend using italics or some other visual way of alerting the reader when the point of view changes to that of the narrator – St. Francis of Assisi in the form of Frankie the Addict. It would help those passages to flow a little more smoothly. I quickly caught on, but it was a bit abrupt. Additionally, I think perhaps too much of the story was given in the blurb on the back of the book.

Saints in the City would make a wonderful, thought provoking selection for any Book Club (I’ve already suggested it for my own!) so a list of Discussion Questions in the back of the book would be a great idea to get readers thinking in that direction. I’m happy to have had the opportunity to read and review this book and will seek out other titles by Andie Andrews in the future!

See Also: Andie Andrews' Website
Donna's Orphan Train Review

1 comment:

Al said...

That's a lovely review, and an intruiging book. I'm going to consider it.