Aunt Bel is the family mystery, the silent skeleton in the closet, the one who left 20 years prior for a mission trip in Kazakhstan and never returned. And she just showed up on Sara Drexel’s doorstep. Never mind that Aunt Bel is an odd sort, strangely quiet and not at all what one pictures as a missionary. She’s family, and Sara can’t say “no” when her divorced parents ask her to let Aunt Bel stay until she gets adjusted. But Sara’s willingness to house her long-lost aunt is little more than a façade. Her hands are full with the print shop she runs with her husband, and her heart is busy grappling with the complexities of strained parent relationships.
Now her husband has jumped on the challenging relationship bandwagon, adding a note of tension to their marriage with his desire for a baby --- a baby Sara doesn’t want. When she’s brave enough to explore her psyche, she realizes she feels unworthy of motherhood. The “why” of it is as much a mystery as Aunt Bel, but there’s no denying the clarity and intensity of that feeling. And somehow, it is tied in with the sadness that has always plagued her --- a sadness that can’t be wiped away by a loving husband, a successful business and devoted friends. But God’s unconventional way of meeting Sara and her needs might just include using a quirky runaway saint with bruises and baggage of her own.
"Author Lisa Samson has created quirky, tarnished, likable and relatable characters in all of her novels, and RUNAWAY SAINT is no exception.... All in all, RUNAWAY SAINT is a compelling read and one you’ll want to share."
Sara has a gift for making things beautiful, and she uses it to create anything paper, from wedding invitations to posters to brochures. Her little print shop, housed in a renovated Baltimore firehouse, is building a good reputation. The best part is that her close-knit staff is creative and talented, each owning their role in the print shop, and each with their own special place in Sara’s heart. Is there room in there for this aunt with the veiled past?
The more Sara gets to know Aunt Bel, the more she longs to uncover her secrets. When a stranger from Kazakhstan appears at the print shop, the mystery deepens. And when he tells Sara her aunt died in a car accident in Kazakhstan, she can’t stay quiet any longer. She confronts her aunt, demanding the truth about why she left the U.S., her reasons for leaving Kazakhstan, why the people there think she’s dead, and what took place during the 20 years in between. Her aunt complies, revealing truths that will rock Sara’s world and bring light to the darkness that has plagued her since childhood. And in the midst of this light, Sara sees her parents and husband, as well as Aunt Bell, with a clarity capable of transforming bruised hearts and battered relationships.
I loved this book from the first two lines: I am thirty years old and still believe in ghosts. I believe in ghosts because I have one. He’s like an imaginary friend, only with a bit more heft.
Author Lisa Samson has created quirky, tarnished, likable and relatable characters in all of her novels, and RUNAWAY SAINT is no exception. Sara is smart, funny and driven --- the kind of person you’d want in your life. On the surface, she has it all together, but hovering just beneath are struggles that keep her from reaching the fulfillment she desires. I loved Sara’s mother, who lives in a tent on an organic farm. Aunt Bel is great as well, speaking only when she feels something needs to be said, and saying it with a refreshing simplicity. And what woman wouldn’t love Sara’s husband? He clearly adores her and even knows when to give her the space she needs to fight her inner battles.
All in all, RUNAWAY SAINT is a compelling read and one you’ll want to share.
Reviewed by Susan Miura on February 19, 2014