Saturday, February 20, 2016

Roots and Sky: An Invitation to Marvel and Feast [Review + **Giveaway!**]

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that Christie Purifoy has become one of my favorite modern writers. I first “met” her when we were both writing for Pick Your Portion, and I loved her contributions so much that I started following her around the internet. Almost every time she posts something she’s written, I don’t merely read, but feel compelled to comment—and it’s usually some variation on “Wow, Christie. So, so beautiful.” Her voice is lovely, piercing, elegant. So when she announced that she’d signed a book contract, I was eager to volunteer for an early review copy!

Roots and Sky: A Journey Home in Four Seasons is the story of Christie’s first year in her dream-come-true farmhouse, Maplehurst. She explores the way pain and joy commingle in the everyday and what it really means for dreams to come true. In the opening essay, she introduces the journey this way:
"A few weeks after moving in, one of my boys slid belt-buckle down and carved a deep scratch the entire length of that beautiful banister. Somehow I most clearly grasp the living reality of my dream come true when I touch that scratch or remember the miserable heat of that first day. We live in a good world shackled by decay. A world that always seems to fall at least a little bit short of its own promise. Yet glory dwells here too. Heaven and earth meet in scratches and scars. In broken banisters and in a Body broken for us."

[TL;DR review here--but keep reading below for the giveaway!]

Christie is a prose-poet, and her writing is exquisite. It's lyrical in a way that is very accessible—not the sort of flowery, trying-too-hard language that many readers find off-putting, but clear, vivid language with striking metaphors. It has richness and depth. Christie’s wonder and her hunger are contagious. She invites the reader to marvel with her, feast with her:

“I cannot tell whether or not these ordinary days are significant in the story of myself, in the story of my daughter, in the story of Maplehurst. Perhaps they are not. But can it be this lack of significance that makes them such a gift? They are gloriously excessive. Like a whole bowl of mismatched beads just asking me to thrust in my hand and wave my fingers. Like a sky spilling over with stars. Every moment I fail to record in Elsa’s baby book is like an unseen galaxy or an unnamed planet. Created but unobserved. Made but unremarked. What are they for? Why does God make them anyway? For the joy of it?

“He gives the blue-sky day in a month of blue skies. He gives the hand-holding day in a decade of holding our child’s hand. He gives the sunrise and sunset, always and again. He gives me a husband in the kitchen making breakfast. Not because it is Mother’s Day or because we have a new baby, but because it is morning. Again, it is morning. Again, we hunger. Again, we are satisfied.”

Yet this isn’t just another “find the beauty in the ordinary” book. Its light is crisscrossed with shadows. Christie isn’t Pollyanna; she writes not only of extravagant beauty, but also of anxiety and loneliness, depression and failure and loss. In the “Winter” section, she reflects on shielding her young children from the lines in Matthew 2 about Rachel weeping for the children of Bethlehem:
“One day they will know just how good and just how terrible the story is. They will know what Rachel’s voice sounds like, and they won’t be able to rid their minds of its awful cadence. I cannot spare them forever. Always there are more heartbroken mothers. Always there are more tears. But they will also know Emmanuel. They will know the good news of incarnation. That God walks with them, always already in the darkest places. He is especially present in the very places we imagine he cannot be. He is there holding Rachel, whispering his promises. It will not always be like this.” 
Christie doesn’t merely cling to sweetness; she fights for hope.
“This is not my first spring, and here is something I know: the day when daffodils emerge is not the day for hope. The day when seedlings show the bright green of new life is not the day for faith. That day came and went. Hope is for the dark days. The days when all you can see is mud and mess, like so many forgotten toys strewn across the backyard. Those are the days when miracles begin.”
The thing that has moved me to tears more than once in the midst of this book launch is the timing of it all and how prophetic her words have proven to be. Just weeks before the official release date, her family was devastated by tragedy, as her sister’s husband was one of the Marines lost in the January helicopter crash off Oahu.  Christie’s testimony to God’s faithful presence in the midst of unfathomable grief is startling—as she puts words to this sorrow, reading her most recent blog posts has felt to me like standing on holy ground

Even in heartbreaking grief, she bears witness to redemption—the priestly role she wrote about in the latter part of her book:
“The shifting seasons usher in so much redemption, even the redemption of one overgrown lilac. As priests we are witnesses to these redemptions. We are here to receive, to name the work of God’s hands, as Adam once named, and to proclaim, ‘Heaven and earth are full of thy glory!’” 
The beauty she captures is messy, not tidy; it is a beauty that makes you tremble. She describes this in the book’s final season, “Summer”:
"True beauty is not vague or distant. It is not a rose-tinted vision. Beauty belongs to the waking world. If beauty comes from God, then we will not find it in abstraction. It does not live in dreams; it lives in dirt."
I felt the need to read through Roots and Sky quickly in order to post an early review (only to procrastinate from writing one for more than two weeks…OY), but I hated to rush—it is a book to be savored, one from which I have copied many quotes and to which I expect I’ll return again.

And, great news: Revell graciously sent me an extra copy to give away! It is my delight to share this beautiful book with one of you. Comment on this post to enter, and earn extra entries through the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The winner will be announced on Saturday, February 27. 

Rita: Your visit to and "liking" of Christie's Facebook page was the lucky winning entry as randomly determined by Rafflecopter! I'll be contacting you to get the book in your hands ASAP :)

For those who didn't win, you can buy a copy of Roots and Sky through Amazon or Barnes and Noble. At only $8, you can easily justify treating yourself to a brand-new paperback (or pick up the Kindle version for even less)! 

One final note: Amazingly, Christie’s creative gift is not limited to words. She also has a way with a camera, and she captures the colors and light of Maplehurst in photos almost as gloriously as in sentences. You’ll definitely want to follow her on Instagram.


Rita said...

How could I not want to read (and win) this after such a compelling review?

Donna G. said...

The book sounds wonderful!

Anonymous said...

I keep hearing about this book and really really want to read it! This theme of finding God in plain old living has been coming up in multiple ways for me and has brought me new peace.

Marjorie said...

I agree with Rita!

Beth said...

I've followed her blog for a while and would love to read her book!

Kitty Dulgar said...

I follow her blog and her instagram account and my heart alternates between praising and weeping as I do! I also love what you say about "forgetting Jesus"--you both help me to keep Him at the forefront!

Unknown said...

It is am amazing book that I will read over & over. Would love another copy to gift to a friend!

ARK said...

This. TOTALLY connected to me: "A few weeks after moving in, one of my boys slid belt-buckle down and carved a deep scratch the entire length of that beautiful banister.

...and after reading of the family hardship Christie and her family have been wading just makes my heart break. Her words -- pre-written, pre-ordained, seem so apt.

Kirsten said...

I "found" Christie when her brother-in-law was reported missing, through Lisa-Jo Baker's blog (I never cease to be amazed at how such rabbit trails hold blessings around each bend!). Since then I've been reading some of her and her sister's blogs and would love to meet her through this book!

Anonymous said...

I stumbled upon Christie when her book was released through someone's blog. I was instantly taken with her writing, as she told about the tragedy that her family was experiencing at that time. I would love to have her book and read it slowly, savoring each chapter.

Miss Lori Akin said...

Just found your blog by way of Christie's Facebook page. Looking forward to getting your posts by email and hopefully reading her book! :)

Danielle said...

"It's lyrical in a way that is very accessible—not the sort of flowery, trying-too-hard language that many readers find off-putting, but clear, vivid language with striking metaphors."

Yes, that makes her different, really.

And I love that quote about Rachel weeping for her children. It was one I highlighted too.

Unknown said...

I've been looking for something new to read for awhile and this book looks so intriguing....would love an opportunity to win a copy.God Bless..Leslie Brown

Anonymous said...

What a great idea for a giveaway--the books sounds spectacular! --Dottie Soderstrom