My Friends Make Stuff: Three New Books to Check Out

I’ve been meaning to share about these books for a while—each deserves its own post—but in the spirit of #WorldsOkayest, here’s one quick post that introduces all of them to you. Check them out and give these writers some love!

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First is Patrice Gopo’s All the Colors We Will See: Reflections on Barriers, Brokenness, and Finding Our Way. I met Patrice at a writers’ workshop in the summer of 2017 and was blown away by her wonderful writing. These essays explore issues of identity, race, and immigration, which makes them super zeitgeisty, but with such beautiful prose that the book feels timeless. Patrice is the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, who grew up in Alaska, spent some time in South Africa, married a man from Nigeria, and now lives in the American South (Charlotte).

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Second is Kevin Cloud’s God and Hamilton: Spiritual Themes from the Life of Alexander Hamilton and the Broadway Musical He Inspired. Kevin moves thematically through Hamilton’s life and looks at major events through the lens of big themes such as grace, sin, forgiveness, etc. He weaves together aspects of the musical with vignettes from Ron Chernow’s book. (Sadly, copyright issues prevent him from quoting from the musical directly… though you can sing the songs in your head for free as you read!) Anyone who’s been intrigued by Hamilton, not just because the mega-blockbuster musical is catchy and brilliant, but also because his story has such deep resonance, will want to pick up this one. And if you’re a preacher toying with the idea of some Hamilton sermons—and really, why not?—this one’s essential.

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Third is Grandpa’s Tent, a lovely picture book by friends and fellow clergywomen Mary Davila and Sarah Kinney Gaventa. This book explores death and dying in a thoughtful yet age-appropriate way, as a young girl comes to terms with her beloved grandfather’s illness, death, and memorial service (which can be a scary and confusing ritual for young children to witness). The illustrations by Paul Shaffer are warm and distinctive, and I love that the family happens to be bi-racial and not a thing is said about it—representation matters; kudos for that. My children are out of the age range for picture books, but this one will stay on my shelf, because you never know when you’ll have a little one in your life who needs these compassionate words.

What are you reading these days?