An Awesome Debut

Mother of Rain by Karen Spears Zacharias; 2013; $17.00; 250 pages; Mercer University Press, Macon, GA; 978-0-88146-448-1; Fiction; loaned to me by Leslie Gould, while she went to France; 6/26/14-6/30-14

In amazing first novel, Karen Spears Zacharias, has created several lovable characters and one who is not quite so lovable.  She has brought to life a community in the hills of Tennessee and made me love them.  Maizee  loses her mother early in her life and her father dispatches her to her aunt and uncles house.  She vows to swallow all her hurt and never show sorrow or hurt to anyone.  Her aunt and uncle love her and raise her well, she goes to school and grows and develops friendships.  She meets the love of her life, marries him and has a child with him, all while coping with depression and voices in her head.   Set during the 1940’s and what happens in our world affects the people way back in the hollers and hills of Tennessee.   I know I have said it before but I will say it again, this is an achingly beautiful story, the lives of the people will make your heart ache but you will fall in love with most of them.

Did I like it?  Karen, write more fiction.  This was a gorgeous book with wonderful characters that are so real I feel like I know them and feel for them in each instance.

Grade-A

What is with the title of the review?  Karen has written several non-fiction books and this is her fiction debut, and she knocks it out of the park.

 

 

 

Thank you, Karen

Will Jesus Buy Me A Double Wide? (‘Cause I Need More Room for My Plasma TV) by Karen Spears Zacharias; 2010; $16.99; 233 pages; Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; 978-0-310-29250-0; 261.850973 Z16wchecked out from Multnomah County Library, Gresham; 6/24/14-6/25/14

Karen Spears Zacharias exposes the prosperity gospel for what it is, bull puckey.  She doesn’t do it through deep investigative reporting on Joel Osteen, Paul Couch, Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn, and their ilk of “pastors”.  She does it  by talking with those who are actively living out the gospel and talks to some who believe in the prosperity gospel and shows how inane it is and tied into the American way of life it is.  So many of us, myself included, have fallen for all or part of it and it is good from time to time to be reminded that God didn’t us health and wealth in this world but he said that in this world we will have trouble, but that we can rejoice because he has overcome it.  Karen writes in such a way that will make you laugh out loud at the inanity of the prosperity gospel and at yourself for falling for it.

Did I enjoy it?  It was the most enjoyable trip to the woodshed that I have had in awhile.  Karen reminds us where our priorities should be with a healthy dose humor.

Grade-A

What is with the title of the review?  Karen Spears Zacharias has provided a reminder of where our priorities should be.  This book will be finding a spot on my to be reread shelf.

Of my tribe

Hero Mama, A Daughter Remembers the Father She Lost in Vietnam–and the Mother Who Held Her Family Together by Karen Spears Zacharias; 2005; 367 pages; William Morrow, New York, NY; 0060721480; B-Za118 2005; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Central; 6/1/14-6/4/14

SSgt David Spears was a husband, a father and  a soldier, good at all of them.  He enlisted in 1951 and served in Korea and Vietnam.  He was killed in action on July 24, 1966 and that is when things changed for his widow, Shelby and their three small children, Frank, Karen and Linda.  The Army basically gave no support to the family once SSgt Spears was buried.  Shelby was a high school dropout who went on to become an Licensed Practical Nurse and then a Registered Nurse.  More difficult than becoming a nurse was having to raise three children on her own.  Her son was adrift without a father, dealing drugs and getting in trouble in many different ways.  Her daughters each dealt with their grief differently in ways that reflect stoic paranoia in one and just moving on for the other.  Shelby found comfort in many different ways until she finished nursing school and got a job.  Then she threw herself completely into her job, wherever it took.  It took her all the way to Alaska as she tried to get away from where her memories of her husband. Her children each became Christians and have some measure of comfort leaning on the arms of God.  As Karen got older she became a writer and the story she needed to write the story of her father and mother in particular.  I am sure that it was a painful journey, and she became involved with  several veterans organizations and organizations made up of other sons and daughters whose fathers were killed in Vietnam.

Did I like it?  Yes.  I don’t think that I have ever cried while reading a non fiction book.  Karen was able to convey the emotions that she felt as she grew up.  This is a book that everyone should read, particularly those who have never been involved with the military.  Karen shares the anguish that all military kids whose fathers are deployed feel while they are gone.

Grade-A

What is with the title of the review?  My brother and sisters are part of a group that is often ignored,the children of those in the military, who have a parent sent away for months or years at a time. Karen Spears Zacharias is also a member of this group as is my favorite author, Pat Conroy. Their parent is killed and the military rarely acknowledges the sacrifice that the children of the service members.

The book is now out in paperback and has been retitled “After The Flag is Folded”