Today is the official release date of A Slow Burn, the second novel in the Defiance, Texas, trilogy by Mary DeMuth, who is not only a gifted author, she is also a dear friend. One of Mary’s greatest writing strengths is a vivid imagination. Through her characters she journeys to places in the mind and heart with the kind of insight that makes you believe she’s lived there all her life. Mary is a woman of deep empathy, a bearer of beautified scars that, though redeemed, allow her to enter the sufferings of others and feel what they feel. Then she takes those soul-deep experiences, wraps them in lyrical language, and paints a picture that makes you feel like you, too, have walked the dusty streets of Defiance, Texas.
I finished A Slow Burn yesterday and closed the book with mixed feelings. To be honest, I didn’t like parts of it. I was mad at the characters for making stupid choices. I wanted to call Mary and say, "What were you thinking? I can’t believe you (spoiler deleted)!" But after I thought about it, I had to admit a big part of my frustration stemmed from "Happily Ever After" syndrome. I wanted everything to tie up neatly–for the prince and princess to ride away into the sunset on his mighty white steed of justice. Life isn’t like that. It’s messy. And complicated. And people really do make stupid choices that affect the lives of others forever and ever. The important thing to remember is that God is a redeemer and that no choice catches Him by surprise or carries a person beyond the reach of His redemption. The residents of Defiance are a broken bunch, but the fragrance of hope permeates their tragedy-torn town.
When asked what she hoped readers would take away from the book, Mary said, "That God is bigger than our sin, our regret, our hopelessness. He takes delight in intersecting the darkest of circumstances. He is there, available."
I’ve been to Defiance, Texas, and I’d have to say I came away with all those souvenirs in hand. But don’t take my word for it. You should go, too. God is available, even in Defiance. That’s good news for all of us.
For more on Mary and A Slow Burn, check out these links: