How are you doing today?
2020 has been a year for the record books. Covid-19 brings uncomfortable restrictions and uncertainty about the future. In New Zealand, where I live and minister, Covid was eradicated in June but has come back to haunt us in August. Then add protests, riots, and elections with every kind of opinion about how we should respond and what we should do. Even when you’re trusting the Lord, sometimes you just want it all to stop.
2020 has made me dig deeper in God’s Word for assurance that God is still in control. Psalms like Psalm 94:17-19. Uplifting Christian fiction is also a good break from all the noise and confusion around me. The most interesting character I’ve read recently is Margot De Wilde in The Number of Love by Roseanna M. White. (See my book review at the end of this Book Blast.)
Do you ever tire of formulaic fiction characters? The beautiful model with the troubled past meets the strong but sensitive hunk. Immediate physical attraction (hormones) makes for love at first sight. Constant danger, several car chases, and a rescue from kidnapping assures them they are meant for each other. These elements might make a strong fiction plot, but they aren’t exactly a good way to find a godly partner for life. And these aren’t the kind of characters I write about.
Three characters from Broken Windows:
Jordan Axtell’s faith is challenged by something authors rarely talk about. His missionary parents have been faithfully serving in Taiwan, but have seen few visible results for their efforts. Why doesn’t God bless their ministry?
My husband and I spent sixteen years serving in Taiwan, and at the end of that time we had to close two ministries that weren’t going to go ahead. I know what that feels like. We believe we were in God’s will in Taiwan and God did use us, but we had hoped to see more visible results. We had to leave that in God’s hands. Since then God has brought us to a new ministry in New Zealand that seems like a good fit for us. We now have many Asians in our church and we understand them better because of living in Taiwan. We know God used our Taiwan time in our lives and the lives of others. But we had to come to terms with that part of our lives like Jordan had to.
Zophie Zobel isn’t the kind of girl that many guys long to date, but she has a passion for ministry and a caring heart that drives Jordan in a good direction and causes him to grow.
More than anyone else I know, Zophie is like my oldest daughter. No wonder I love this character so much. To get the perfect look of this character in my head, I chose a photo from a magazine from our mission. Once I saw “Zophie” in a crowd. Now I find she will be working with a missionary friend of ours in Peru. Maybe one day I’ll get to meet the face that inspired this character.
Jordan’s black ’69 Mustang also becomes a character in my book. Jordan introduces her as “Mustang Axtell, the Mrs. Jordan Axtell, my beloved. She’s the only girlfriend I need right now.” If you’ve read Broken Windows you know how the car speaks to him and brings him to the point of significant spiritual change.
Since I’m definitely not a car gal, I had to rely on my brother, Jim, for the details and feel for this character. Jim told me, “that scene in Chapter Thirteen where Bradley is riding his skateboard close to the Mustang, that’s not funny, you know.” Jim wasn’t joking. He told me how a real car guy would never allow a kid and a skateboard anywhere close to his classic car and the stern warning he would give a kid like Bradley who was anywhere in the vicinity of a classic car. Which told me this scene would resonate with a true car guy.
If you’ve read a book with interesting characters lately, why not leave us a comment and tell us about it?
I’ll end this Book Blast with my book review of the book mentioned above.
My book review of: The Number of Love by Roseanna M. White
This book was unlike any book I’ve ever read before. It’s definitely historical and yes, it is mystery and has romance. But the characters are what make this book a 5-star read. The author takes you deep into the mind of Margot, a girl who lives, breathes, thinks, feels and prays in numbers. She counts compulsively and is a genius with numbers. She doesn’t care about fashion and avoids shallow friendships. But the qualities that restrict her social life make her an excellent codebreaker during the Great War. She is intensely loyal to the friends she does have and pushes herself into social situations when she senses the need.
This book demonstrates friendship that looks beyond first impressions and the outer facade of a person to the heart. Unlike the author and me, the characters are Catholic. Salvation is never mentioned, but Margot relies heavily on prayer and learns to trust in God when she doesn’t understand. God speaks to her in numbers and when she doesn’t hear the numbers she doubts that God is speaking to her. I wonder about that. But the characters are unique and compelling. They grow to appreciate the differences of others and learn to work with them, flaws and all. I love that this book is outside the formulaic plots of romance and suspense and yet compelling in a way that is hard to describe. It grows on you until you don’t want to put it down. The most interesting book I’ve read in a long time.