Sunday, January 17, 2010

Review: Screen Play by Chris Coppernoll

Screen PlayHarper is an actor who has been out of work for a year. She gets a call right before New Years to come be an understudy in a resurrection of an old play that hasn't been on stage for years. An old friend of hers from college has been given special permission to revive the play. At first up on arrival, Harper doesn't have much to do and doesn't feel welcomed by the other actors.

But things soon turn around and Harper finds herself in the spotlight. But is achieving success in acting all she thinks it is?

Meanwhile, she has started emailing and chatting with a guy online. He lives far away but Harper finds herself more and more interested in him. Could he be her true love?

I didn't love this book. Some of the writing was really lovely, and at first I thought I was going to love it for that reason. But then the parts about God and Harper's faith came in...and they felt so...old school Christian fiction. Long drawn out church scenes and Harper always seemed to say the perfect little Christian girl thing to say. In fact, I think this novel helped me clarify a little bit what I don't like in Christian fiction which is basically one standard way of being "right" or being a Christian. I long to read characters with more depth...characters who really live with the questions. For example, on New Year's Eve Harper goes to church instead of going drinking with her friends. And to be honest, I don't know that's the right choice. Why does that have to be the right choice? It feels so cliche that that is what she would do and that not drinking would be what wins people over? And another time when she's trying to reach out to the stage manager she says something to the effect of not wanting to not try. Huh? Like she only wants to be friends with her because it's the right thing to do? That stuff drives me slightly nutty.

BUT, like I said there's some really beautiful writing in parts and I suspect that most fans of Christian fiction wouldn't be bothered by the things that bugged me. I'm just learning more and more who I am as a reader and what I'm looking for in characters and stories of faith. And this wasn't it.

Rating: 3/5
Things You Might Want to Know: Christian Fiction
Source of Book: Publicist provided a copy for review
Publisher: Cook

You can read the First chapter here:

I absolutely had to be in New York by 1:30 p.m. Did my life depend upon it? Yes, as a matter of fact, it did. Just the thought of calling Ben or Avril with bad news from O’Hare churned my stomach and made my face prickle with a dizzying fear. I joined a sea of travelers bundled in parkas, hoods, hats, and gloves; they stretched out in front of me, pressing in and wresting me through a queue of red velvet theater ropes.

All of Chicago wanted to flee the blizzard they’d awakened to. Sometime after midnight the sky exploded with snowflakes. Icy white parachutists fell from their celestial perch as innocently as doves. The year’s last snowstorm tucked the city in with a white blanket knitted through the long winter’s night.

When I reached the American Airlines check-in, I hoisted one of my two black canvas bags onto the scale for the ticket agent.

“Harper Gray?” she asked, confirming my reservation.


She returned my driver’s license, dropping her gaze to the workstation and tapping my information into the system. At the kiosk next to me, a large Texan with a silver rodeo buckle typed on his iPhone with his thumbs, mumbling something about checking the weather in Dallas.

Computers, I thought. What don’t we use them for?

It was obvious how many of my fellow travelers were heading somewhere for the New Year’s Eve festivities. I couldn’t help but eavesdrop on a cluster of merry college students reveling in their Christmas

break. They joked and chattered, mentioning Times Square, unbothered by long lines or the imminent threat of weather delays. At thirty, almost thirty-one, I could no longer relate to their carefree lifestyle. Too much water under the bridge, most of it dark and all of it numbing.

“Here you are,” the ticket agent said, handing me a boarding pass still warm from the printer. I fumbled with my things, stuffing my photo ID into my wallet as a mother and her young son squeezed in next to me. The crowd current swept me away from the ticket counter, denying me a chance to ask the agent the one question I most wanted answered.

Is anyone flying out of here this morning?

I rolled my carry-on through the main concourse. I’d used the small black Samsonite for so many trips, I thought the airlines should paste labels on it like an old vaudevillian’s steamer trunk. A row of display monitors hung from a galvanized pipe, cobalt blue icicles glowing all the brighter in the dark and windowless hallway. I joined a beleaguered crowd of gawkers studying the departure screens. Their collective moans of frustration confirmed what I already knew. My flight—indeed, all flights out of O’Hare—was:


I pinched my eyes shut. This was not what I needed. Not today, not today of all days. I absolutely had to be in New York by 1:30 p.m. Did my life depend upon it? Yes, as a matter of fact, it did.

©2010 Cook Communications Ministries. Screen Play by Chris Coppernoll. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.


Lynn Spencer said...

I was so glad to see your review. I was curious about this book, but not sure what to expect. Though I am a believer, a lot of the tropes of old-school Christian fiction just don't do it for me, so I might give this one a pass. BTW, if you're looking for a good Christian novel set in the show business world, I was pretty impressed with Tour de Force by Elizabeth White which I read last year.

Amy @ My Friend Amy said...

Hi Lynn,

Some of the writing is lovely, but I also had a hard time connecting with the main character. I'll check out Tour de Force. :)

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