Brief Reviews, VOLUME 4

Brief Review: THE BLACKBERRY BUSH – David Housholder [Vol. 4, #12.5]

361167: The Blackberry Bush

A Brief Review of

The Blackberry Bush

By David Housholder
Paperback: Summerside Press, 2011

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Reviewed by Chris Enstad.

The Blackberry Bush is a novel by David Housholder.  Housholder is the pastor of Robinwood Church in Huntington Beach, CA.  He is an Oxford scholar and Lutheran pastor who runs with the charismatic/evangelical tribes as well.  This novel is a story but it is also a theological text and both tasks are undertaken with grace and innovative storytelling.

The novel centers on Kati and Josh, two people born on opposite sides of the world at the same moment in history: the fall of the Berlin Wall.  Through backstory and narrative, Housholder explores how two people with seemingly different backgrounds came in contact with each other at one brief time that changed both of their lives.  What I found most telling in this novel was an answer to my own question: how will faith and spirituality be passed on to once and future generations in a time that seems to have no time for these kinds of things?

The answer, for Housholder, lies in the families and the stories that surround these two young people.  Who of us has not wrestled with the impossible demands of life and those who live and love with us?  Who of us has not been stopped in our tracks by life and found ourselves in “need of rescue”?

For those of us called to minister to young adults in particular, this novel might open up some amazing and transformational dialogues.  How much pressure are your young adults under to “succeed”?  And, before maturity, how much pressure already exists in the realm of school grades and sports?

And finally, in the end, how do people find each other in the first place?

The tone and pace of the book is perfect for young adults but all readers will enjoy the history and conversations across the generations that you will find inside.  Housholder has provided good study group questions at the end of the book and is also available on Facebook and Twitter to engage in further conversation.  Pick this book up and read it, then grab a few more and gather your young adults around you and see what happens.

Chris Enstad is the Poetry and Fiction editor of The Englewood Review of Books.  He is also Senior Pastor of Elim Lutheran Church of Robbinsdale, MN.  His blog can be found at

Reading for the Common Good
From ERB Editor Christopher Smith

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C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at:

One Comment

  1. Thanks Chris! You put it perfectly! One thing: he is a Fulbright scholar, and not an Oxford scholar. But who cares? He’s brilliant one way or another!