A pastor’s wife in suburban Lutherville, Beth juggles the responsibilities inherent in that role as she supports her husband, Rick, and mothers her nearly grown sons. Life has taken on a familiar pattern with which she is comfortable. Except in those private moments when she isn’t. Those glimpses of her former self leave her silently questioning life’s “whys” and “what ifs,” and more importantly asking “is there more?” But Beth is not the only one asking life’s big questions. After Rick tells her he’s feeling stifled and needs some quiet time to hear from God, he moves into the backyard shed…indefinitely. THE SKY BENEATH MY FEET presents the reader with Beth --- humble, hesitant, funny and loving --- on her own and aching to move forward, but fearing she may step in the wrong direction.
"I’m a big fan of Lisa Samson’s books, so it’s no surprise that I loved THE SKY BENEATH MY FEET. As always, her words flow smoother than a chocolate malt. Her characters are so well developed that you want to meet them in person, or may feel you already have."
Beth doesn’t realize it, but she’s already taken the first step when she impulsively stops at a demonstration of the Rent-a-Mob --- a group that protests…whatever. Each member has his or her own agenda, and topics vary from protest to protest. Though she intends it to be a quick “life lesson” on being judgmental for her 16-year-old son, she can’t help considering the group’s suggestion that she attend their next meeting. Concurrently, her thoughts also swirl around the offer of her friend’s beach house. With the key nestled in her purse, she hopes Rick will share her excitement over a family trip to Florida. Instead, he shares his plan to move to the backyard.
It’s not a divorce, a betrayal, or even a personal vendetta, yet in Beth’s heart, Rick’s unprecedented excursion to the shed feels a little like all three. She understands he’s frustrated with his role as the Men’s Pastor at their megachurch. She knows that the recent offer of a pastor position at another church is pulling his heart in different directions. But they’ve always worked through life’s challenges together. Whatever this new strategy is, “together” is not part of it. And apparently, Florida is not part of it, either.
The series of events that follow will keep the reader turning pages at a comfortable, reflective pace, curious to see how Beth handles each and where she will ultimately land. The artist next door paints Rick as a saint, her son is caught with marijuana, her brother seeks her assistance in rescuing a wayward teen girl, and Beth joins the Rent-a-Mob on a peace rally in Washington, DC, only to get caught in a riot. And with each situation, Beth gets a clearer picture of who she is. With a friend’s encouragement, and without Rick or the boys, she heads to the beach house where a still, small voice provides the clarity Beth has been seeking to get her marriage and life on a new and better track.
I’m a big fan of Lisa Samson’s books, so it’s no surprise that I loved THE SKY BENEATH MY FEET. As always, her words flow smoother than a chocolate malt. Her characters are so well developed that you want to meet them in person, or may feel you already have. The story’s pace is not a can’t-put-it-down page turner, but more the kind you contemplate and look forward to picking up again. Beth is real enough to touch, and readers will easily identify with her fears, insecurities, hopes and dreams. You will come away with a truer sense of the life-changing possibilities inside each of us.
Reviewed by Susan Miura on April 12, 2013