27 November 2006

Review - Straight Up by Lisa Samson

Lisa Samson wrote a book about the could have beens and should have beens of life.
Georgia Ella, a should have been jazz great throws away opportunity after opportunity in order to grip more tightly to the bottle. Her cousin, Fairly, mourns her dead past in a sideways manner with the young and the restless in upscale New York. The two come together in Lexington for new starts. But the question is, are there any new starts left?
This book broke my heart from beginning to end. I learned that sometimes hope is not where you think it is. For example, I wondered how the little girl fits in, and when I figured it out, or rather, figured out how the girl should have fit in, my heart cried.
The strength in this book lies in the amazing characterization. Lisa uses first person for two of the characters, and yet is able to make the distinct and real. I morphed into Georgia. I know others that read the same book will become Fairly or Clarissa or UG or Sean, which makes this book powerful for so many people and so many mistakes. Each character is flawed, man are they flawed – no wonder woman or superman heroes here – and loveable, loveable, that is, by God.
This book portrays the communal aspect of life in its negative and positive aspects. It shows that no matter how much we isolate ourselves and tell ourselves that we are only hurting ourselves, everything we do changes something for good or bad about the world. Straight Up also paints the landscape of the beautiful communion of the Christian life.
Straight Up encourages me to use every opportunity as to the glory of God, to reach out to every passing person, to practice more, to write more, to eat more, to laugh more, to serve more, and to get out of my pity parties.
As much as I loved Samson’s The Living End, I think Straight Up has passed it on my favorites list. I’ve mentioned Lisa’s metaphors before, but I’ll take the time to highlight them again. Wow, this girl is good. And you know what I think? I think her rich writing comes from a rich life, fully lived, fully involved in people and passion and art and God.
Can I be Lisa Samson?


Pamela said...

It sounds like it might make a person feel a little blue. (don't u love my big words)

....I'm afraid to read things that add to my seasonal depression

San said...

You make me want to read her...the highest compliment a reviewer can get. :)

Jennifer said...

I have only read this and the Living End and did enjoy both, but I think that the Living End is my favorite. I have Songbird to read next.

JR's Thumbprints said...

It's so hard making fictional characters come to life. There are too many bestselling novels out there that stick to a formula, and the characters are one, maybe two, dimensional. Nice review.

Kathleen Marie said...

Sounds very interesting! I need to add this to my list. Thanks for sharing!

Dineen A. Miller said...

I think her rich writing comes from a rich life, fully lived, fully involved in people and passion and art and God.

I think you're exactly right. And God desires to do that through all of us. Be inspired by Lisa, but go be Heather. God has a different story for you. :-) And I can't wait to read it!