I was so exciting when this book came up for review. What could possibly be better than seven church members piling into an old run down Ford van to drive around the country trying to "steal" a pastor. I anticipated a great ride.
Publisher's Blurb: A mismatched team of seven hit the road in an Econoline church van on a mission to find a new pastor. They don't agree on much other than the stops at Hardee's for coffee and a biscuit. But they stick to the call, trying to slip undetected into worship services across the Southeast—all in hopes of stealing a preacher for their congregation.
Each member is wrestling to balance their own busy life and personal struggles. And they're trying to keep their issues to themselves. Forced to spend countless hours together, these very different personalities from different generations begin to bond. And their lives are profoundly changed as they love and support each other through the difficulties in each of their lives.
The premise for the book is fantastic. I opened the first page one morning just before I had to leave for church. I was waiting for my kids and I couldn't resist turning the cover open. I tingled with excitement as the the first page caught me immediately. I pronounced for all to hear that I knew how I was spending the rest of my afternoon. The first-time author, Tim Owens has a great voice with an easy to read style.
The characters are rich and engaging with real and authentic lives. I really enjoyed the character arc of Bill, and older man - the patriarch of the group - struggling to take care of his wife and lead a band of mis-matched adults. His story made me cry. Any book that can actually make me cry is a good book.
There are sermons and scriptures that the author explores within the lives of the characters which I really liked as well. Each chapter begins with a scripture or a reading from works within the Presbyterian Church itself. The discussion questions in the back of the book are a nice bonus.
Yet I struggled with the layout of the book. There are seven characters - all of equal importance. You ride with them in the van, then you visit each of their lives, their pasts and their points of view equally. I found I was lost by chapter five. I had to back track to figure out who was who and facts about each of them. That took the enjoyment out of reading for me. I would have rather read a story in one or maybe two points of view about the trip and the wacky things that went on between the group of seven. I also find a book that bounces continually between present and past hard to follow. That is MY personal preference.
Although I don't anticipate picking up the book and reading it again, it still carried a great story. If asked,'would you recommend this book to others' - I would have to say - if you like the style of book that you shouldn't put down for long and carries a portion of mental strength to keep up with it, then I think you will really like this book. It won the Jerry B Jenkins Christian Writers Guild Award.
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