|A Review of
By Lisa Samson
Reviewed by Jeni Newswanger-Smith.
Lisa Samson belongs to the newer (but welcome!) generation of Christian authors who write honestly and believably about people’s struggles with faith in the real world. Samson often deals with big topics—alcoholism, psychosis, murders—and Resurrection in May is no different. In fact, Samson deals with so many big issues (e.g., genocide, drug addiction, PTSD, the death penalty), that the book is almost overwhelming. May, a recent college graduate, who is partying away her young life, meets Claudius, an old farmer who has never lived away from his birth home, when he picks her up, drunk and abandoned, from the side of the road. Claudius is able to see through May’s recent bad choices to who she really is—a bright, talented, but pampered child who makes very bad choices when it comes to romance. They strike up an unlikely friendship—May moves into Claudius’s home while she waits to go on a mission trip Rwanda; there she plans to work in a small village, while also exercising her journalistic skills. But May’s trip to Rwanda overlaps with the atrocious genocides of the 1990s, and May witnesses and experiences rage and hatred she can not find words to express. After barely living through the genocide, May returns home scarred literally and figuratively. Unable to deal with anyone of her former acquaintance, she moves back into Claudius’s home. There she stays for years, her world quickly becoming just the farm and those people who visit it. After dealing for years with pathological fear, May is encouraged to reach beyond the farm by writing to a former friend who is awaiting execution on death row. As the friendship grows through letters, both May and her friend wrestle with the issues of forgiveness and redemption.
Samson’s books are always enjoyable as well as challenging. Resurrection in May is no exception, however, because of the over-crowding of big issues and the rather sudden shifts in time and perspective, it doesn’t stand up to her best work. While Samson deals realistically with disappointed dreams and mental illness, Resurrection in May is brimming so full with interesting characters and potential sub-plots, one wonders why no one suggested making it into a series.
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: C-Christopher-Smith.com