cover image Club Sandwich

Club Sandwich

Lisa Samson, . . WaterBrook, $13.99 (357pp) ISBN 978-1-57856-885-7

Christy Award–winner Samson has a penchant for dysfunctional characters and chaotic situations, and her latest novel is chock-full of both. Ivy Schneider is a flat-chested 38-year-old with size 10 feet whose husband has been away for more than three years on a gospel singing tour. Her brother veers between addictions; her aging divorced mother lives in her made-over dining room, breaking out into dementia-induced sermons; and her three children grapple with everything from day-care troubles to teen angst. Meanwhile, her mooching father takes up residence in her basement, her rich sister tries to fix a broken marriage and a few adulterous sparks ignite between Ivy and her friend Mitch. Throw in the family diner that Ivy helps run, and you begin to wonder if a little bit less might have been a whole lot more. Samson's rambling first-person narrative is engaging, but she never fully develops the titular support group of women juggling children and aging parents. Readers will cheer when Ivy figures out the difference between practicing sacrificial love and acting like a doormat, although they may wonder what took her so long. Samson (Songbird ; Tiger Lily ) is one of the Christian fiction market's best novelists, and although this is not her best work, her fans will enjoy the read. (June 21)