The October 14 issue of Anabaptist world included several mini reviews of recent books. Some of them are fiction books.
The eponymous character from Merle Good’s new novel Christine’s turn (Walnut Street) (he also wrote the popular 1971 novel Happy as the Grass Was Green) is a talented lyricist and vocalist in a trio called The Forerunners. She’s a smart student about to graduate with a history degree, shows she cares about others, has two attractive men (a favorite, though imprecise, adjective) who want to marry her, but she sees herself as “a fatherless white trash-poor no one lives a step away from the farm. The novel includes many storylines with their own suspense, but the driving tension is Christine’s battle with self-esteem.” Turn takes on multiple meanings, including whether she can turn the corner to believe she’s not a failure and decide what to do next. A song she co-wrote has become a hit, and the band is encouraged to going on the road. She is drawn to higher education. She joins a crusade to stop the development of a historic farm near her home, which she and her mother will lose if the development plan goes through. A former boyfriend, now divorced, pursues her, but she has feelings for another one she’s not sure she loves. The short, abrupt chapters, with few extended scenes, give the novel a superficial feel, but it moves forward and reads quickly. Many will enjoy the likable (and some unlikable) characters and display of benevolent relationships without any religious didacticism. — Gordon Houser
Perhaps the greatest affliction of Mennonites in Manitoba is their closeness to one another. The high-profile small towns of the Canadian prairies have inspired a seemingly inordinate number of writers. One of the final changes takes the Mennonite novel in a visual direction. by Jonathan Dyke Windbreak (Conundrum) is a graphic novel, using black and white imagery to reveal complex relationships that are anything but binary. The “comics” may seem juvenile, but the host of characters and situations in Hespeler’s fictional community are not. As young adults and their elders interact over 250 pages, Dyck shows how divisive issues are only simple until people start to interact. It confronts LGBTQ inclusion, mega-churches, Indigenous land issues, residential schools, children of pastors, conscientious objection, mission trips and the consequences of vulnerability. Hemmed in by the past and overwhelmed by the future, Shelterbelts has its place in the precarious present. — Tim Huber