May Seymour likes letting loose at parties, having too much fun with boys and taking one day at a time. After graduating college, she vigorously celebrates and winds up on the side of a rural Kentucky road, too hungover to even stand. Only God could have sent Claudius Borne down that street, setting in motion a series of events and a lifelong friendship between the impetuous graduate and the aging farmer. When a trip to Rwanda shatters May’s world and leaves her half dead, that friendship becomes her lifeline. But is it enough, or is there something more needed to bring about a RESURRECTION IN MAY?
Claudius never married, sired a child or traveled much past the boundaries of his hometown. But he knew how to work the earth, care for animals, trust in God and be a loyal friend. When he saw blond, blue-eyed May crawling along the shoulder, there was no question about what to do with her. A good long rest on Claudius’s peaceful 40-acre farm, followed by a bowl of fresh chicken soup, marks the beginning of an unlikely friendship. Days later, May temporarily moves to the farm, where she stays until leaving for a “non-mission” trip to Rwanda. May wants to help the Rwandans, but spreading the Word of God is not on the agenda, even though she’ll be assisting a priest.
The beauty of Rwanda is outmatched only by the beauty of its people. May stays far beyond her two-month plan, having no reason to leave this new life, filled with love, friendship and a sense of purpose she has never felt before. But unrest rears its ugly head in Rwanda. News spreads about Hutu soldiers slaughtering those in Tutsi villages like the one in which May is living. When U.N. soldiers stop by to take May to safety, she refuses, choosing to stay with her Tutsi friends. It is a choice that will have a powerful impact on May’s life.
Machete-bearing Hutu soldiers arrive the next morning. Blades swing, people scream and Tutsis from babies to old people are slaughtered in the bloodbath. Women are dragged outside and gang-raped before the blades silence their cries. May is among them. Unbearable pain causes her to lose consciousness. She awakes to silence, her arms slashed and knees seriously injured. Everyone is dead. For three months she survives in the jungle with infected wounds and little to eat. When U.N. soldiers return, they find an emaciated war-shocked version of the fun-loving American girl who had arrived a year earlier.
Only one place on earth can offer the peaceful existence May needs if she has any chance of recovering. Claudius welcomes May with open arms, his heart breaking at the sight of his young friend. Ever so slowly, Claudius helps May repair some of her shattered soul, but there are parts that just won’t heal. A year after May returns to the farm, Claudius dies. The provisions of his will allow May to stay on the farm, which now belongs to the church. For the next 10 years, May does not leave the farm. She grows and sells flowers for a meager income. But staying on the farm does not allow May to escape from life’s trials.
May discovers that her former boyfriend, Eli, is on death row for killing a man and his daughter. She knows it was Eli’s drug addiction that led him to commit this horrific crime. She hesitantly writes to him in prison, triggering a letter-writing relationship that opens her heart to the world around her and God’s hand in her life.
Author Lisa Samson never disappoints. Her books draw you in like warm apple cobbler on a snowy night. RESURRECTION IN MAY is no exception. With masterfully crafted characters, story and setting, it grabs like a fine-tuned mystery, making you care so deeply about the characters that you are driven to read until all the threads have woven together to create the final tapestry.
Reviewed by Susan Miura on August 3, 2010