cover image The Passion of Mary-Margaret

The Passion of Mary-Margaret

Lisa Samson, . . Thomas Nelson, $14.99 (320pp) ISBN 978-1-59554-211-3

Samson (Quaker Summer ) mixes quirky with mysticism, seasons it with social justice, and the result is a page-turner with characters so fresh, funny and indelible the reader wants another 50 pages or so, please. Samson envisions a Jesus even an atheist would enjoy talking to, a Jesus whom the titular Mary-Margaret Fischer, a religious sister, talks to and gets direction from, as mystics quite naturally do. An even more compelling figure than Jesus, or at least someone with more lines and hence more characterization, is Mary-Margaret's childhood friend, Jude Keller, a ne'er-do-well with a soul needing saving encased in a body so good-looking it's hard for a body to resist. The required Christian progression to redemption is a natural in this story that slips between past and present—somewhat confusingly at first—and ranges from Maryland to Africa. The plot holds a few surprises that make some of the final, far-flung episodes more narratively and theologically satisfying. Quirk works; this is a deeply engaging book deserving of a broad audience. (Mar.)