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Sensible Shoes: A Novel Paperback – June 14, 2010
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Come take a sacred journey.
Meg Crane has never had a longing for adventure. She's never even traveled more than two hundred miles from home. But when she receives an invitation from the New Hope Retreat Center to travel deeper into the heart of God, Meg finds herself saying yes.
Against her better judgment.
What will she discover if she begins to walk the winding path through the broken pieces of her past?
Meg isn't the only one who feels apprehensive about the journey. Though the other people gathered at New Hope appear to have life well put together, each of them has a story to tell.
Join Meg, Hannah, Mara, and Charissa as they become unlikely companions on the road to healing, transformation, and self-discovery. Because the long walk leads through the unpredictable terrain of the inner life, the travelers will need courage, patience, perseverance, and of course...
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It was so good that I couldn’t set it down.
The thing about Sensible Shoes is that it’s about a group of four women who are doing a long retreat and Brown’s writing style enables the reader to go on the retreat alongside the characters. This book is more than just a good novel, it’s a spiritual renewal—and for that, I think I would give the book 5 stars. But as a novel, it is also touching and helps reveal something intimate about the reader as the characters’ souls are being laid bare.
From a literature perspective, the story is well done. The writing is superb and the way in which the author switches between the character perspectives keeps you wanting to read more and find out what happens. I’ve already written on the blog about how I related to each character, so I won’t take up space writing about that now. I will say that each character is so real, so relatable that it makes it feel like a true story. I guarantee that you have met women just like Meg, Mara, Hannah, and Charissa. Reading this novel, you might well find yourself thinking of a friend who, like Meg, needs to learn her worth. Or, you might be reminded of a former classmate who, like Charissa, makes your blood boil when she is being superficial and judgmental. Each character has different struggles, different addictions that keep them from being in perfect communion with God. The story, then, is how each overcomes those obstacles and moves forward to be in better communion with God and with each other. Since that is the story of each of our own lives and spiritual journeys, I think that makes Sensible Shoes a hopeful read.
When the story reaches the bi-monthly meetings of the retreat group that the women belong to, there is a discussion in the story of a certain type of prayer. To help the reader in their own prayer life, Brown even includes a copy of the handout that the women receive from their retreat director in the story. I even borrowed from Brown in articles for my magazine. That’s how good these handouts are. With an M.Div. from Princeton and a job as pastor at an Evangelical church in Michigan, Brown is obviously an experienced retreat director in addition to being a great author—making me even more inclined to support her book. We ministers have to support each other.
I highly recommend this great work of fiction and hope that you will take the time to read it. I guarantee it will help you in your spiritual life.
That's why I find "Sensible Shoes" by Sharon Garlough Brown such a welcome, unexpected, joyous breath of fresh air. It's the powerful story of four women, each with issues and baggage from their past, who meet at a retreat center in Michigan. Through their retreats and their interactions God begins to move them from brokenness to wholeness, and the journey is breathtakingly inspiring. And here's the thing-it is both well-written and extremely insightful. No shallow platitudes here, no quick fixes that deny the heartache real people struggle with every day--"Sensible Shoes" is honest and raw in the way life is, and in being so it opens the door for authentic reflection on the ways God stirs us to step beyond our pasts and embrace a life that is rich, deep, and saturated with His presence.
If that were all, "Sensible Shoes" would be highly worth recommending. But what takes this book to another level entirely is the fact that it, while fiction, teaches and guides the reader as well as any non-fiction book on the spiritual life. If you like Richard Foster or Ruth Haley Barton you will love what Brown does throughout this book in teaching spiritual disciplines and ancient spiritual practices. The reader learns them along with the characters, and that is what I think makes this book totally unique. This would be a great book for small groups to read together and learn practices that would enrich their walk with God.
In short, great story, great characters, great spiritual depth. Christian fiction is in good hands with writers and books like this.