Young Adult Christian - Science Fiction - Fantasy
Date Published: February 1, 2016
Serve the community. Obey the laws. Exist on anxiety pills. This is all Monet, a ward of her city, can hope for until she and her friend, Luke, find an old book that shows the history of mankind—a past that’s been hidden from them and all the citizens of Titus. As their curiosity takes them down a dangerous path, extraordinary events begin to occur, showing them God may exist and is reaching out to them through illegal art and a realm of paranormal activity. Monet and Luke find themselves at a crossroads: live within the safe, logical confines of Titus, or embrace the wild truth and risk death.
Sherry wrote children’s books before digging into genres for older audiences. Her short stories have been published in The Relevant Christian Magazine and Wordsmith Journal Magazine. Recently, she became the author of the bestselling YA novel Faith Seekers, and is also the project leader for Roots Writers and Social Media Critique Group. She is bold when she feels there has been too much silence, and quiet when there is too much noise. She lives in Northern Arizona with her husband and children.
The Power of a Reader
Most people talk about the power of story, or the author behind the story, but a book has only done its job when a reader picks it up and decides it’s more than just another slab of paper.
One of the first stories I read as a youth had such power. Here’s how I recognized its purpose:
In college, I invited a few friends to my hometown. One of them, Nate, came from a large city with traffic lullabies, amazing theaters and bars full of clean and polished people. He was as Left as I was Right, but we both loved the arts and shopping, so our friendship blossomed enough to shade those conversations we tiptoed around. When he stepped a Birkenstock-wrapped foot onto my parent’s rural property, he grew quiet. And a little bit scared.
I suppose the sound of crickets…and not much else…was foreign to him. And of course, there were wide stretches of unoccupied land, and the threat of rattlesnakes under every rock. I knew there were questions pounding on his head about small-town conservatives. You see, his lifestyle was controversial, but I had hoped our friendship was enough proof to show him that Jesus follower was the farthest thing from hater.
He eyed the saddle, the chaps, the fireplace—the only source of heat—and grew a bit pale, I kid you not.
The gun shop next to the house.
And when we began to pray over the meal, he looked as if we were about to pull out The Lottery box and sacrifice him to the gods of harvest.
Shirley Jackson wrote The Lottery in 1948. In the story, a small rural town participated in a lottery every year—the unlucky person to choose the paper marked with a black dot must be stoned to death in order to ensure a good harvest. Even children weren’t spared from participating. I had to read this story a few times in my early education, and each time I hated it a little more. What was the purpose of putting readers through that?
I finally recognized the idea in the way some people treated Nate—I remember the taunts he had to endure when walking through the dorms at school. And it also existed on the other side of the aisle, when some of his friends were so fed up with the verbal abuse they wanted to ban any and all that came with a conservative label, making assumptions of their own.
After our trip to the sticks, we returned to campus and laughed about it because friendship has a way of pushing through the muck.
It doesn’t take but a short stroll through facebook to gather the wide panorama of ideas that get displayed, mostly in the form of decorative statements and jokes. But when the conversations stop at the headlines, no one really knows the whole story. Much of what we see is stone-throwing. Hatred—whatever it takes for people to feel their harvest is plentiful. All too often, it leads to loss of the people’s voice, or loss of life.
So here we are friends, smack dab in the Real-Life Lottery. We’re embracing this lottery system and calling it justified.
I know what I’ll say right now, from my own point of view: Jesus loves the outcasts, the crippled, the hurting. He came for them.
And this is where the readers come in. They can read stories like The Lottery, or whatever is sitting on your night stand, and decide if it’s just a story—or if it’s a warning.
Readers can raise their voices and say, “It’s time to pay attention.”
“Explaining just what I had hoped the story to say is very difficult. I suppose, I hoped, by setting a particularly brutal ancient rite in the present and in my own village to shock the story’s readers with a graphic dramatization of the pointless violence and general inhumanity in their own lives.” –Shirley Jackson