A debut collection of nonfiction, Christian-themed stories and verses that center on moments of kindness and faith.
“These stories illustrate the truth of God’s mercy to a sinful world,” writes Poteet in her introduction, “and His mercy to each of us sinners in particular.” The tales range from a brief vignette about a child’s miraculous recovery after ingesting 22 of his father’s pills to the concluding, seven-part “Mary Stories,” about Poteet befriending a reclusive neighbor. One standout figure is the titular Georgette, an older woman and a vagrant that Poteet’s family starting caring for when the author was 15. There’s also the story of a man named John, whom the author knew in college, and whom she still remembers fondly for challenging her religious beliefs. Almost all the stories center on messages of faith; indeed, some are simply summaries of sermons or Bible studies. In “Learning More than Literature,” Poteet discovers that a classmate thinks that she’s a snob; the news comes as a shock, and the author distills it into a simple message: “Do not ever assume I know the contents of other people’s hearts.” The poems between the stories sometimes feel like pretty, contemporary hymns (“And we are singing / ‘All the weak find their strength / at the sound of Your great name’”), which helps the collection feel more cohesive. However, the tales themselves are short and fleeting, barely giving readers time to connect to the characters before they spell out a moral. There are also several stories that seem a poor fit for the point Poteet is attempting to make. For example, an account of a high school basketball player receiving one scholarship instead of another is supposed to represent fate and God’s plan, and a chronicle of another family’s reconnection with an estranged daughter is meant to show the power of prayer. That said, when Poteet writes of own experiences and gives them space to come to life, they’re believable and enjoyable.
An uneven set of recollections and poems that often neglects character and plot development in favor of overarching lessons.