While on vacation at the end of January, I found myself in awe of the selection of Christian novels available at Barnes and Noble. Believe it or not, this was the first time I had been in one of their stores, looking for Christian books. (It was only the second time I'd ever been in a B&N!) I wasn't looking for any book in particular. My hope was to find a new author, someone whose work I was not yet familiar with. I think my husband was shocked that I over-looked all of the Karen Kingsbury books on display. He knows she is my favorite author and sort of assumed, given the opportunity to purchase a few new books, I would choose something by her. But I already knew that I would enjoy anything by Karen. I wanted something new, something that I had never seen before, something that would stir my soul and make me think.
After all, if the only Christian author worth reading is Karen Kingsbury, there would not have been so many other authors on display at Barnes and Noble! My eyes settled on Faking Grace, a book by Tamara Leigh. I think it was the bright green of the cover. It seemed a very entertaining contrast to the more subdued tones of blue, grey, and brown that seemed to grace the cover of most books in that section. The copy on the back intrigued me. Somehow, I found that I could relate to a woman running from a bad career choice and trying to figure out who she really is.
Once I started reading it, I couldn’t put the book down! In her quest to pay her bills and prove that she really was cut out for the kind of job she has always dreamed of, Maizy Grace Stewart finds herself in a maze of lies. Her quick wit and sense of humor help her to navigate the maze, as well as learn more about herself and about the God she has pushed aside for much of her adult life.
My favorite part of the book is the relationship between Maizy and her grandmother, Grace. Grandma Grace is the only person who Maizy is able to truly be herself with; she is the only one who knows everything that Maizy is doing and how the young woman is struggling with her faith. Still, it is Maizy who teaches the older woman a little something about God. Forgiveness, she reminds her grandmother, is not something that is earned or deserved. Christ gave it willingly and accepts anyone who claims to be a Christian to do the same. A rift in the family is tearing Grandma Grace apart, though she doesn’t see any way to fix it. When Maizy tells her, “You’re the Christian, Grandma. I know that won’t make it less difficult, and there’s no guarantee she’ll accept your apology, but at least you will have done what you are supposed to do,” tears filled my eyes. A very profound thought, one that was unexpected in this often comical story.
Tamara Leigh has created, quirky, loveable characters. I can see myself befriending Maizy or even Jem, an uncertain young woman badly in need of a true friend. By the end of the book, I felt that I had made some new friends. I was very sad to have to say good-bye to them.
The romance between Maizy and Jack develops slowly, the way any good love should. But it wasn’t as central to the story as I at first thought. Sure, I was rooting for a happy ending for this pair. More than that, though, I was rooting for Maizy to find forgiveness—from herself and from others. The message of love, grace, and forgiveness in this book is one that I will not soon forget.