Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A Place at the Table by Susan Rebecca White

I feel like my reading lately has been scratching at my raw and vulnerable places and it's not even like I'm asking for it or seeking out books to do this, it's just happening. I found A Place at the Table to be a deeply touching book about people displaced from their families that work to come together and make a new family for themselves. But it isn't exactly like most of the found family stories I love, because I think it acknowledges that even though you can indeed find people to love you like family, the loss/rejection of family is a wound that never really goes away.

This book is mostly about Bobby, a young man who is gay and growing up as a pastor's son in a southern evangelical family in Georgia. His story is really well written and believable, in my opinion, from the perspective of loss of faith. This was probably my favorite thing about the book, actually. Bobby was really into God and loved him and his faith, but he's also gay and when his family realizes it they reject him. (except for his awesome grandma) And as his story progresses through the years, he slowly loses that faith but not the longing for it or even the shame associated with it and that feels very real and touching to me.

But there's also Alice, and African American chef, and Amelia, a woman in a thankless abusive relationship. And the stories of these three eventually weave together in a very satisfying way. There's a little bit of a mystery at the heart of the book that you might figure out quickly, but it doesn't matter since waiting for the characters to figure it out is the really important part.

This book was my June pick for Bloggers Recommend because it is truly beautiful, but also very absorbing, I read it quickly, didn't want to put it down, etc. I think if you like Southern fiction or lots of food in your fiction, or stories of New York, etc. you'll enjoy this one!

"What was surprising to me was how much I wanted to be offered it. I grew up in the Church. Baptist, not Catholic, but still. And sure, looking back I can see how narrow that world was, but...I don't know. I loved the way I felt about God when I was a child. The universe was good, and God loved me and I belonged. Like how you speak of the cafe back in the heyday, how it was this special place where life was elevated somehow. That was how church was for me, and I keep trying to find that place again, and I just--I keep getting smacked down. I'm like Charlie Brown trying to kick the football, and Lucy keeps snatching it away."

My favorite passage, because in a lot of ways I relate. I am still a person of faith, but I've become older and more jaded and I miss feeling that way about God and having a church that feels like love and family. Oh life.

Anyway, this is a good one!

*Please note I received a review copy of this book from the publisher (Touchstone)!


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