Thursday, August 2, 2018

"The Harvest Raise" by Katie Schuermann

I've liked this trilogy more and more with each book!  All the characters I got to know during the first book, I love by now.  Be they irascible, sweet, scatter-brained, quirky, solemn, or conflicted, they're my fictional friends now.  I love the resolution so many characters get in this book, Arlene Scheinberg in particular.  I actually disliked her back in House of Living Stones, became grudgingly fond of her in The Choir Immortal, and now admire and cherish her.  That's a good character arc, folks.

This book takes place several years after the previous two.  Pastor and Emily Duke have children now, and Emily is learning that being a pastor's wife is not easy.  My own dad just retired from the ministry this summer, and a lot of the things Emily Duke encounters during this story reminded me of my mom's life.  Many members of the congregation love and support her, but there are some who think they're entitled to know everything about the pastor's private life, to tell them how many kids they should have, and to try to tell them how to manage their household.  Some mean well, some don't, and... that's exactly what a pastor's family deals with.  All the time.

From the first book, I've loved Blaine, the punk-looking pianist and college student who struggled with anger and self-worth because his dad divorced his mom and entered a homosexual relationship.  I love the direction Blaine's life is taking by this book, though I won't spoil what that is, just in case someone here hasn't read this series yet, or at least this book.  But I do want to talk about how interesting I found it that he's asexual.  Although asexual characters have been cropping up in fiction lately, I've never encountered one in Christian fiction before.  I really liked how Schuermann tied Blaine's non-interest in romantic or sexual relationships to the Biblical teachings that encourage and applaud celibate lifestyles for those who are not inclined to marry.  Schuermann handled it beautifully, showing it to be a blessing just as valid and God-pleasing as marriage.  In our sex-obsessed society, we need more books with characters who reflect the men and women throughout history who have not felt led to marry because they do not burn with physical passion.

Overall, I'm sad that this series has ended because I would like more adventures with the people of Bradbury, but I also love the way that it ended, so I'm content.  After all, I can reread these three books whenever I want to hang out with all of my fictional friends there again :-)

(From my Instagram account.)

Particularly Good Bits:

It was the very essence of Church Stress, this constant bearing of people's scorn.  The world mocked and spit upon Christ Himself.  It most certainly would do the same to His servants (p. 155).

He had remembered.  She closed her eyes and sat, comforted, in the warm embrace of Blaine's knowing.  It got lonely in her memories sometimes.  She reached out a grieving hand to him, and he met it with his own (p. 334).

She hadn't realized Lutherans could be so chatty.  Their Sunday morning stoicism was feigned, apparently, for the moment they picked up a phone, they confabulataed like spirited Pentecostals (p. 373).

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  PG-13 for subject matter like abortion, drug use, physical abuse, and some scary tornado-related scenes.

This is my 12th book read and reviewed for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2018!  That means I've reached my original goal!  I'll have to see about setting my sights on a higher goal, since it's only August.


  1. Sounds like a good series! Church stress, I've had my share of that.

    1. Skye, yeah, me too. It's so sad when Christians fight each other instead of loving one another in Christ. Sigh.

  2. I don't usually care for Christian fiction (and I'm selective about what fiction I read in general), but this sounds pretty good. And the inclusion of not only a portrayal, but a *positive* portrayal, of asexuality is surprising to find in any book. That in itself catches my interest.

    It's a shame that my to-read list is already so long. "I'll get to it when I'm 50!" is what I usually say when someone recommends a book... (For context: I'm in my 20s now.)

    1. Justice, I'm pretty picky about what I read too. And a lot of supposedly Christian fiction leaves me luke-warm at best. This series is definitely one of the exceptions to that. And you're right, positive portrayals of asexuality are sadly rare.

      I hear you on the too-long TBR list. Mine will take me until I'm in my 80s, at least! (And I'm in my 30s now....)


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