Thursday, April 19, 2018

"The Choir Immortal" by Katie Schuermann

Do you ever read the first book in a series and think it's pretty good, and then you read the second book and it blows your tiny mind?  That totally just happened to me.  I liked House of Living Stones, Schuermann's first novel about the people who attend Zion Lutheran Church in fictional Bradbury, Illinois.  It was cute and funny and a little zany.  But the second book?  My heart is not yet recovered from the upwelling of emotions caused by this book.

As Larry the Cucumber says, "I laughed; I cried.  It moved me, Bob." 

I did laugh.  Quite a bit, actually.  But I cried more.  Happy and sad tears both sprang to my eyes, sometimes both at the same time.  This book was simply excellent at portraying Christians facing good and bad times both, learning to cling to God's love and forgiveness in all circumstances.  This book has weddings, funerals, marriage proposals, family squabbles, new friendships forged, old friendships strengthened -- everything we walk through in life, in other words.

And also Jell-o salad, cream of mushroom soup, and hot coffee in the middle of the summer because yup, those are cornerstones of a Midwestern Lutheran life ;-) 

I'm really not telling you what this book is *about* very well, am I?  Well, there's a bachelor pastor who's trying to figure out how to ask his church's choir director to marry him.  There are families facing the death of people young and old.  There's a little boy trying to become a ninja.  There's a college student who's trying to come to terms with his parents' divorce after his dad chose a gay lifestyle over his family.  That college student, Blaine Maler, became one of my favorite characters over the course of this book.  He reminds me of someone I knew in college who also got judged a lot because he liked wearing black clothes, had a lot of tattoos and piercings, and did weird things with his hair.  I hung out with a lot of the weird people in college, being weird myself, and I really just wanted to jump in this story and befriend Blaine because he definitely needed more friends.  But then, don't we all?

Bottom line: if you like stories about small town congregations filled with very real, quirky, lovable, exasperating people, you're going to love this book.  But read House of Living Stones first so you know who's who and what's what, okay?

(My copy with my morning coffee.)

Particularly Good Bits:

She always had an easier time talking to yarn than to people (p. 117).


Transferring from Northwestern University to BC in the middle of his sophomore year had felt a bit like jumping off a speeding train and landing on a tractor (p. 125).

"I was trying to be helpful," she explained, her voice gaining in momentum and volume, the usual music that so often accompanies self-justification (p. 217).

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  PG-13 for discussions of homosexuality, divorce, death, and other difficult topics.  No bad language or smutty scenes or violence.  It's clean, but not child-appropriate at all times.


This is my 7th book read and reviewed for the Mount TBR Challenge 2018.

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