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Thursday, August 19, 2010

My review of Soon After by Sherryle Kiser Jackson

Soon After

About the book:

There was no information on the internet that gave a synopsis of this title (probably because it doesn't officially release until August 31st.) I found the book posted numerous places, but not with a description attached. I hope to update this review with the official synopsis when it's posted. But for now I'll summarize it a bit. Two congregations now exist from a church split. One had burned to the ground from arson, and the other stood. The question is who burned the other church to ashes, and why would someone do that? The story also follows the marriage of newlyweds Vanessa and Willie Green, who both pastor the same church. I'll leave it at that so as not to post any spoilers.

My review:

Soon After was an interesting insiders look at the aftermath of an arsonist's attack on one church, and the merger of another congregation. This is the first book I've read by Sherryle Kiser Jackson. I felt like I missed out on a whole lot of history from not having read the former book(s) in the series, if there were any books with the same characters in them. I got the impression that the previous book by Ms. Jackson had the some of the same characters in it. I did get an uncorrected proof to review so there were a lot of spelling and grammatical errors that I assume will be corrected in the finished book. Regardless, there were many things to like about the story.

The author made her characters flawed and real. They struggled like everyone else in this world, and weren't protected just because they were Christians. I also loved the insider's look into the church hierarchy and how things were run. I loved how the author had her characters face temptation and deal with issues related to pride, fear, the temptation to lie, etc. I always enjoy a good story with realistic players.

The cultural elements in this book are very strong. Having visited a number of African American congregations over the years I felt very comfortable and familiar with the structure of the church and the way services were portrayed. I also loved the way Vanessa was forced by circumstances to relinquish control of her life and let God do the work He had intended. I can't say more than that because it would be a spoiler.

I enjoyed reading about the arson investigation and getting to know the reporter, Alexis, from the news station. Those investigative scenes all felt real, like I was there with the characters. The mystery elements and her drive to solve the case kept me reading...along with Vanessa's mystery illness. I love it when things have a twist on them, as long as the conclusion is believable. In this case, the author did a great job with that part of the plot. I also get the impression from the way things ended that there may be another book to conclude the series.

star star star

Decent story - more like 3.5 stars

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