My father’s epitaph had been a lie,
engraved into a stone tablet—
just like the 10 Commandments.
Both had been used to control beliefs.
David’s wealth was prolonging my father’s life,
even as he was enjoying my father’s wife.
Like Mary Magdalene,
I’d been visiting the empty grave of
the man my mother had practically deified—
the man whose blood would redeem me
from psychological incest.
For the sake of her soul,
she would not divorce,
but she would kill.
For the sake of Patrick’s soul.
she had preserved the body by
keeping him hooked to machines—
a mechanical embalming.
Mother Mary had been Mother’s idol,
but now she saw herself as a martyr—
a saint but not of the Catholic kind.
we had visited an empty grave,
like Mary coming to see
the empty tomb.
The latter had risen,
the former had never died,
but had suffered for the sins
committed in Mother’s world.
who I’d thought a prince of a man,
an earthly king of kings—
had lain with a married woman,
whose husband he had paid
to keep alive.
Like King David,
David had kept the Fosters
a secret from Mother,
even as he had kept my father
a secret from me.
He was a complicated man,
& because of him,
I was a complicated woman.
My mother could’ve chosen to end my life in the womb,
but I could not choose to end her life outside it,
even though she had killed something inside me.
The foundation of our existence shook,
the pillars & posts of transparency tumbled around me,
& I walked through the valley of the shadow of spiritual death
in a temporal world that had become an anathema to me.
LDS (Mormon fiction): Shannon’s Mirror, by Luisa M. Perkins
- I think a girl/woman of any age can enjoy this book, LDS or not. Thirteen years ago, a friend of mine mentioned this book; the title stuck in my head until I finally bought it a few years ago. It is a very beautiful, but very sad story, about how the quest for perfectionism (which I, as a former LDS woman, struggled with) can lead to heartache and destruction.
Christian fiction: Any books by Linda Hall
- This is the kind of Christian fiction I like–where Christians are real people who question things. Rich in character, and description, too, but in a way that paints a picture as you read rather than slowing the momentum of the story.
Harlequin romance: Redeeming Claire, by Cynthia Rutledge
- Good Harlequin romances are as hard to find as an adverb in a Stephen King novel (or so I’ve heard), but this one is a gem because again, Christians are portrayed as regular people, not holier-than-thou or square as Wally Cleaver. And it’s actually funny!
Mainstream romance: Small Town Girl, by LaVyrle Spencer
- I’ve read this book several times, and will read it several more. It’s about a country music star who goes back home to help her mother and ends up falling in love with the one boy, now a man, whom she taunted all through high school. The fact that Poplar Bluff, Missouri, the little town I was born in, was mentioned, was a bonus.
Memoir: In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer, by Irene Gut Opdyke
- Though the subject matter isn’t unique, the voice was.
Biography: Natasha: The Biography of Natalie Wood, by Suzanne Finstad
- I’ve been a fan of Natalie ever since I saw her as a little girl in “Miracle on 34th Street”, for she reminded me so much of myself when I was at that age. She also personified physical beauty that did not come in blond hair and blue eyes (which I, and every other girl I knew, wanted growing up). This book read like creative nonfiction. I do think one would have to be at least a lukewarm fan to get pleasure from this book.
Chick lit: Confessions of a Shopaholic, by Sophie Kinsella
- Story and protagonist are hilarious (though I hope Becky learns her lesson by the end of the series).
Beach read: The Sunday Wife, by Cassandra King
- Though the author’s personal views are quite different from my own (and were presented in a very one-dimensional way), I enjoyed this because the friendship of two women was the focus, relegating the romance to the background. Again, a bonus was that Pensacola, Florida (“The Buckle of the Bible Belt”/”The Redneck Riviera”), the town where I live, was mentioned.
Gothic horror: Flowers in the Attic, by V.C. Andrews
- I first read this book in high school and was hooked on V.C., till her ghostwriter became a hack. I love this book because it’s just the kind of story I like to write.
Children’s book: Many Moons, by James Thurber
- I had read this book once, many years when I was in elementary school, and it stayed with me for almost 30 years, after I had my own daughter. It epitomizes one of my favorite scriptures, “…and a little child shall lead them.” (Isaiah 11:6)
On writing: Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself into Print, by Renni Browne, Dave King and George Booth
- This book opened my eyes on how to break my stories up into scenes–how to show, rather than tell.
Best nonfiction/religious book (besides the Bible): What if Jesus Had Never Been Born?: The Positive Impact of Christianity in History, by Dr. D. James Kennedy and Jerry Newcombe
- This was an enlightening book. I’d never thought about how life might be different had Jesus not come yet. Whether or not you’re a Christian, I think it makes for a thought-provoking read.