cover image  The Sky Beneath My Feet

The Sky Beneath My Feet

Lisa Samson. Thomas Nelson, $15.99 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-59554-545-9

The staleness in Beth and Rick’s marriage becomes evident when Rick, a pastor, goes on retreat—inside the shed in their suburban backyard. While Rick disappears to seek God’s wisdom, Beth is in charge of the rest of their life, which includes two teenage sons who need guidance and her own nagging midlife doubts. The characters she encounters—peace activists, a streetwise nun who runs a shelter for teen girls—offer possibilities as Beth examines her own place in life. The crisis-of-faith premise is promising, but Samson’s usually lively imagination doesn’t do enough work. Many plot elements are more shorthand caricature than realized character: peace marchers, a women’s book club, a narrow-minded conservative Christian. To be sure, some of the minor characters are vintage Samson: the nun Mother Zaccheus is a gem. But the pieces don’t add up to a rich whole. Lots of people are concerned about their mission in life. But readers outside the evangelical Christian megachurch subculture may not crack the cover of a novel about a pastor, his wife, and their two kids in the suburbs. (Mar.)