I’ve read and reviewed a couple of previous books by Lisa Samson and stand by my conviction that she is one of the best, freshest voices in Christian women’s fiction today. Quaker Summer is probably my favourite of her books so far. It combines the strong characterization of a novel like The Passion of Mary-Margaret with the concern for Christian social justice found in the book Justice in the Burbs, which Samson co-authored with her husband.
Heather Curridge is the wife of a wealthy doctor and the mother of a sweet and precocious fifteen-year-old boy. Though she loves her husband and son, Heather’s life is empty as she has no career and no strong interests of her own — even her spiritual life and her connection to her church is waning. She fills her days by compulsively spending her husband’s money on more additions to, and toys for, their luxurious suburban home, and on volunteer duties at her son’s school that have begun to seem petty and pointless.
Heather is ready for a change in her life, and one evidence of that is that she’s been haunted more and more recently by the memories of Gary and Mary Andrews, a couple of poor kids she used to tease and bully back when she was in school. Seeing her own son now as the victim of bullying, Heather regrets what she’s done in the past and wishes she could make amends. When she and her husband accidentally find themselves on the wrong side of town and run into a feisty little nun running a homeless mission, Lisa begins to suspect God might have a role for her to play there. And a car accident that lands her on the doorstep of two aging Quaker women gives her an opportunity to rethink her life and completes Heather’s transformation.
Transformation isn’t easy — changing your life means not just internal upheaval but discomfort for those around you — sometimes even real danger. Samson portrays these challenges honestly as Heather faces them, and by the end of the story we see a very different woman from the one we met at the beginning. Heather is no superwoman, but she’s begun the process of following God’s path rather than her own upwardly-mobile one, and the change is unmistakeable. I found this book not just enjoyable but inspiring.