For those of you who haven’t read the first two books in the Anthems of Zion series, Bradbury is a small town in Illinois, and Zion is its Lutheran church. What Bradbury is expecting, specifically, isn’t a baby, but rather its third and final book, The Harvest Raise, on June 13. And boy, the people of Bradbury will take any and every opportunity to gossip about those who are expecting!
Having devoured the first two books of the trilogy in under 24-hours each, when the opportunity presented itself to read and review an Advanced Reader’s Copy of The Harvest Raise, I jumped at the opportunity. The book surely did not disappoint; author Katie Schuermann brings small town, Lutheran living to life. Here’s why I loved The Harvest Raise:
THR Honestly Portrays Lutheran Life and Doctrine
So much more than generic Christian fiction, The Harvest Raise incorporates the application of Scripture into the life of the Christian. In addition, because both the author and the setting are conservative Lutheran, the characters quote from the Scripture, the Hymnal, and the Confessions. Because of this, the characters seem like real people that I could find among my own congregation and friends.
THR Is Instructive, But Not Preachy
Because the people of Zion are both sinners and saints, just like us, it’s easy to learn from the characters’ mistakes. As we watch the foibles of the characters, we’re reminded of the Biblical virtues of humility, self-control, friendship, and patience. And all this without quoting a single sermon from Rev. Fletcher!
THR Features Diverse Characters
I especially love that THR features such a diverse cast, without glorying diversity for its own sake. Often, books in a wide-variety of genres show only a very small segment of the population. The Harvest Raise portrays both the Christian church and the community as being made of many kinds of people, all of whom contribute to the edification of others. The cast includes:
- Scripture-quoting toddlers (yes, it can be taught!)
- old folks and the struggles inherent to aging
- the challenges and sacrifices of pregnancy and raising a large family
- the sorrows of the barren and bereaved
- college kids falling in love and planning a life around Christ
- the ache of widows and widowers
- the mentally and physically disabled
- the rich and poor
- those who struggle with sexual sin
- those who care for or mourn for their aging parents
- those with memory loss
- those with marital struggles
Whatever you are going through in life, you’ll probably find a character in THR struggling through the same. It’s also likely that you’ll grow in grace and charity for your neighbor, whom you may get to know better figuratively by studying the characters from this book who are different from yourself.
THR Tackles Social Problems in the Context of Truth
Think small-town Lutheran life is boring? Think again! Besides all of the interpersonal drama featured in this book, the author crafted several plot twists regarding drugs, violence, abortion, and homosexuality. But rather than glorify these, as happens in so many modern books, the author shows the deeply human pain behind these social problems, and the unending comfort that Jesus can offer to those who are hurting.
The Harvest Raise is just plain a good story. It is satisfying and real-- as far as fiction can be! It was extremely difficult to put down when my vocations (other than book-reviewer) called! The Harvest Raise exemplifies Christians working and loving and living and forgiving, all with humor and reliance on the merits of our Savior.
If you are a fan of Christian fiction, be sure to prioritize the Anthems of Zion series for your summer reading list! You will NOT be disappointed: This is most certainly true!