(Guest) Review: Faking Grace, by Tamara Leigh

So, I got an email tonight, with a book review attached to it. Here’s the full text:

Dear She Reads Books,

Ur not posting enuf. We need more reviews. Heres mine i hope u like it n u can use it.

I guess that I can’t argue with that.

Well, actually this wasn’t an unsolicited review (please don’t send me those). This was an email from my mom, who is both funny and highly literate. And please enjoy her review of Faking Grace, by Tamara Leigh, which I won from Tami.

I enjoyed this book, which is classed on the back cover as Fiction/Contemporary, but which I would classify as (Christian) Chick-Lit. Here’s the blurb:

All she wants is a job. All she needs is religion. How hard can it be?

Maizy Grace Stewart dreams of a career as an investigative journalist, but her last job ended in disaster when her compassion cost her employer a juicy headline. A part-time gig at a Nashville newspaper might be her big break.

A second job at Steeple Side Christian Resources could help pay the bills, but they only hire committed Christians. Maizy is sure she can fake it with her “Five-Step Program to Authentic Christian Faith.” If only Jack Prentiss, Steeple Side’s managing editor and British hottie, wasn’t determined to prove her a fraud.

When Maizy’s newspaper boss pressures her to expose any skeletons in Steeple Side’s closet, she must decide whether to deliver the dirt and secure her career or lean on her newfound faith, change the direction of her life, and pray that her colleagues –- and Jack –- will show her grace.

With a blurb like that, you know that everything’s going to come out all right in the end – Maizy will grow in her Christian commitment, make the right decisions, and end up with her adversary, “British hottie” Jack Prentiss. (By the way, why do North Americans insist on calling English people British?) So, the question is, how well does the author handle the story? Quite cleverly, as it turns out.

To begin with, the title is very apt –- Maizy is attempting to fake Christian grace, but she is also using her second name, Grace, at the Steeple Side job, essentially creating a new, overtly Christian, identity. Her initial attempts, involving a “Jesus is my co-pilot” bumper sticker and a fish emblem for her car, are quite amusing and lead to Jack’s initial suspicion of her.

Maizy has a book to help her in her act: The Dumb Blonde’s Guide to Christianity. This take-off on the Dummies books is a useful plot device that allows the author to present lots of information on contemporary American Christianity without being preachy.

The characters in the book are, for the most part, realistic – the Christians are imperfect, but take their faith seriously. The non-Christians are also presented sympathetically. In the course of the story there is growth and healing, without an unrealistic fairy-tale ending.

Faking Grace is well-written –- the story flows well, with both humour and suspense, the mystery of Maizy’s past is sustained for several chapters, and the conflict and mutual suspicions between Maizy and Jack are quite … satisfactory … in typical chick-lit fashion. There are sparks, disdain, anger, attraction, misunderstandings, and so on, leading to a very felicitous conclusion.

Would a non-Christian enjoy this book? Very possibly, if she (let’s face it, its audience is bound to be mostly female) went in with an open mind. The quotes from the Dumb Blonde’s Guide to Christianity could help someone who is trying to understand a Christian friend, or interested in finding out what Christianity is about –- or simply ready for a good clean fun read (sorry for the cliché!).

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