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Home > Michelle B. Larks
 

Recent Reviews for Michelle B. Larks


Keeping Misery Company (Book) - 8/12/2007 8:23:04 PM
Imagine this: A man and woman have been married for thirty-five years. They have three beautiful children, even more adorable grandchildren, successful jobs, supportive friends, and an extended family network that helps them weather every storm. Their life couldn’t be any more perfect, right...? All of a sudden, skeletons start coming out of the closet like it’s Halloween: surreptitious affairs come to light, decades-old simmering grudges begin to heat to the point of explosion, and even the paternity of one of their three kids gets called into question... You’d think that things like this only happen to people on Jerry Springer: low-class, amoral pleasure-seekers looking out only for themselves who couldn’t care less about love and forgiveness and don’t give a second thought to going to church on Sunday, right...? Wrong. Meet the Wilcox family: husband & wife Daniel & Ruth, and their three children DJ, Sarah, and Naomi, all avid church goers - even heirs to the throne of one of the largest, most influential churches in the greater Chicago area...for those who think that Christians are somehow above the day-to-day drama that we all tend to face, Keeping Misery Company is sure to change your mind. What’s most impressive about Larks’s tale, though, is the humanistic light in which all its characters are presented. There are no exaggerated demonizations here; only realistic portrayals of how we truly become the products of our own choices, living examples of cause-and-effect. Rather than simply being written off as a heartless, duplicitous cheater, Daniel evokes sympathy - and even some empathy - from readers who can relate to his abandonment by a wife who devotes more time and energy to pleasing her church than her man. Likewise, Ruth could easily be seen as a frigid pseudo-homemaker were it not for a deeper understanding of the prolonged restrictions of her upbringing. Larks’s deft, sensitive presentation of her characters as well-rounded, flawed individuals makes it more likely that we’ll see our own lives reflected in theirs as opposed to pointing a judgmental finger in their direction. Which, of course, leads to the greatest lesson of Keeping Misery Company: the inescapable consequences of karma. Given the fact that we are products of our own choices, we must in turn accept responsibility for the choices that we make - no matter how painful that responsibility may be. Larks shows this immutable fact in a number of ways: from the agonizing, AIDS-related death of Ruth’s brother, Ezra, to the disownment of Daniel by his own kids, even to the surprise fate that awaits Daniel himself, coupled with the question that he should have asked himself long before... Keeping Misery Company is a refreshing addition to the Christian fiction genre, one that should be welcomed for both its raw candor and unflinching honesty. Mostly, though, it is a humbling reminder of the common humanity that unites us all, reflected most poignantly in these profound words from Naomi, the babe of the Wilcox clan: "I always thought our family was perfect, especially because Bishop and our forefathers are ministers...now I’m finding out that we’re no better than anybody else."

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