Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Michelle McKinney Hammond's Playing God ~ Reviewed
Playing God: A Novel (Paperback)
by Michelle McKinney Hammond
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (June 1, 2008)
Michelle McKinney Hammond, bestselling author of The Last Ten Percent, pens her second novel and explores the heartache that can come when women try to play God in their own lives.
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” After seven years as a counselor, the once idealistic Tamara Roberts has absorbed so much of the loss, doubts, and trials of her clients that she begins to question how God can let so much hurt happen in the lives of good people. Corinne Collins’ husband, a respected religious leader, is unfaithful with another man; Lydia Deveraux tries to take matters into her own hands to settle the score between her and her famous but absent producer husband; Jamilah, Tamara’s best friend, is trying to save a young girl neglected by her mother. In contrast, Felicia Sample (featured in The Last Ten Percent) is married, saved, and feeling blessed after a past of indecision and mistakes.
This riveting novel with intersecting story lines will remind readers that God is loving, all–knowing, merciful, and the One completely in control—if only we’ll believe and wait for His victory.
Playing God is the first of Michelle McKinney Hammond I've ever read. I've seen her non-fiction books and recognize her picture. But she and I are on different pages in life so I didn't know if I'd ever relate to her.
After being pulled into her story, I can tell you that she is quite the communicator. Her characters are real and transparent. The plot moves along at a fast clip and the tension is definitely in place as I found myself wanting to slap some sense into a character or two. Or hoping that someone, somewhere would intervene.The plot centers around Tamara, a good Christian woman who's expecting a reward from God. She sees that others who've been foolish or out of control seem to have the whole package now, a little scarred maybe, but so what. Tamara wonders why her own package deal isn't better, surely it deserves some serious bling/beauty and depth after all she's given up for God. Tamara becomes a victim of they older brother syndrome from the infamous Prodigal Son parable from the Bible. Several other key players struggle with their own faithquakes, fears and consequences. Many of them interact with Tamara because she is their psychologist.
McKinney Hammond's voice is a mixture of sassy girlfriend and teacher/preacher. There is an element of teaching through each of the stories that intermingle. A quippy line or two, scriptures to support the lesson and lessons taught through dialog among the characters. I think this story might be a terrific way for the "good girls" who are thinking about dangling a toe into the refreshing looking world-water to do just that without paying the high price of screwing up. Counselors may find a great resource to refer to clients who may be struggling in areas touched on in the book. The issues covered are heavy ones: faithquakes, judgmentalism, infidelity, child and sexual abuse, immorality, closet homosexuality, pastors who do harm and glossy exteriors that are designed to cover up pain and ugliness. Readers may find the novel to offer some soul balm or a little hope. The topics I just mentioned are handled honestly so edgy Christian fiction fans may want to check into it, too. Sensitive souls may want to dig a little deeper as much of the story veers into PG-13.
Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer