Wednesday, April 20, 2011
The Homeward Trilogy by Lisa T. Bergren
“There is only one consuming fire that does not destroy us,” the man said in a low voice, leaning closer.
Nic frowned. “And that is?”
“God, my friend. If we give God our lives, then He will consume us from the inside out, but we will not be destroyed. We will become more than what we were, not less. Part of the fire.”
-Excerpt from Sing, Book 2 in The Homeward Trilogy
The Homeward Trilogy, by Lisa T. Bergren, composed of the three novels Breathe, Sing, and Claim, is set in 1880’s Colorado when Colorado was still young. In the first novel Breathe, we are introduced to three siblings, Odessa, Moira, and Nic, heirs of St. Clair Press, a publishing company in Philadelphia. Chapter 1 finds them on a train as they make their way from Philadelphia to Colorado Springs, Colorado, seeking “the cure” for Odessa St. Clair who is suffering from tuberculosis, what is then known as “consumption.” From the very beginning, the family is on adventure that will change the course of their lives forever.
The Homeward Trilogy can by classified in my opinion into several different genres, historical fiction, Christian fiction, a romance novel with an element of a western about it. A citizen of Colorado Springs, Colorado, Mrs. Bergren has definitely done her research in composing these three novels and that is evident in her detailed descriptions of scenery, dress, and of the events that take place throughout the trilogy. The incidents and experiences of the three main characters are reminiscent of when Colorado was young, during a time of growth when men and women valued the land and the contents therein.
The setting for the novel is mainly Colorado, but within the pages, you will also find excursions through Paris, South America, and various other places across the United States.
In regards to Christian fiction, we follow the characters along their journey as they develop in their awareness of God and His relentless pursuit and care of them. The reader is reminded of the great love God has for each of us and His patient endurance in capturing our heart.
I really enjoyed reading these books. It was something new for me. In the past, I have mostly read contemporary Christian fiction and what would be considered chick lit for Christian women as well. But these novels were such a nice surprise for me. It opened up a whole new genre for me of which I will be reading more. Once I picked each one of these novels up, it was difficult for me to put them down. When I had completed Claim, the final one, it was sad because I had come to the end and there was no more of the character’s lives left for me to experience.
I would definitely recommend these novels to anyone who likes to travel or who wants to learn more about the United States. If you enjoy the mystery of God being unveiled in a person’s life, you will also enjoy these books. If you like a western and all the action that includes, good guys versus bad guys, guns and violence, you will find this trilogy appealing.
I received these books as part of a Christmas giveaway in December of 2010. They were a gift and I did not receive them in exchange for a review. However, I did enjoy them so upon completion I decided to write this review and share my thoughts in order to give others an opportunity to enjoy them as well. When I decided to write this review, I messaged the author, requesting an author interview to include as part of my review. Mrs. Bergren graciously agreed to answer my questions and here is what I found out:
> 1. Have you always wanted to be a writer? At what point in your life did you know that God was going to use you in this way?
I always thought it'd be fun. But it wasn't until I had published more than five books that I could even begin to dare to dream that it was anything more than a fluke...that God might intend to use my writing for his glory--and then dare to ask him to continue to make a way for me.
> 2. How do you choose the names of the characters in your fiction? (I know this is a random question. Just curious.)
I consult baby name books and the Internet--for instance, you can find popular names in 1880, or medieval men's names from Italy, by region. Gotta love the resources at our fingertips these days. For my books set abroad, I try to choose names we English speakers can pronounce without too much difficulty--I know that makes readers crazy!
> 3. Do you pray during the writing process?
I do. But I could certainly be more consistent about it. I tend to pray when I'm stuck, mostly! I've been praying a lot about my next YA series (I'm writing a new adult series based on the Grand Tour for the rest of this year), asking him to give me vision, scope, and a publisher.
> 4. In the last novel of the trilogy, Claim, it seems God is more forefront than in the other two. Can you share a little bit about that?
I think God always emerges slowly through my trilogies, becoming more apparent with each one. Just as the characters become more fleshed out and known, so does God become. I never want faith to be a heavy-handed element. For me, it has to be natural, believable with the characters. Nic was on the run for a long time, and had a lot to deal with, before he was really ready to go a few rounds with God, as he does in CLAIM. The same has happened with his sister--she really has to hit bottom before she's ready to reach up. So it doesn't come together until book 3, which felt natural to me. Fast conversions rarely read as "real" to me. People tend to wrestle with the Holy for a long while before they finally admit the need we all feel, whether it's recognized yet or not.
> 5. Tell us about the role your faith plays in your writing.
My faith is as much a part of me as breathing. And yet some days/months I'm quiet, listening, absorbing. Others I feel led to be more bold. Just depends on what he puts on my heart, when. Right now, I've been called to write YA, a genre which is full of a lot of darkness. Because I really want to reach out to the world through my YA fiction, that faith element has to be really subtle. But it will grow as God leads.
> 6. Do you write because you have a message or does the message emerge as you write?
The message emerges as I write, as I get to know the characters, their struggles, their triumphs. Most readers can smell message-driven fiction a mile away and find it unattractive. What readers want most is a story, a great story they can invest in, and then to learn along with the characters. So for me, it has and always will be, secondary. Which isn't to say that I don't look forward to God illuminating what he's trying to teach me through the process...that's one of my favorite parts. I learn, right along with the readers, as my characters do.
To find out more about Lisa T. Bergren, you can go to www.lisatawnbergren.com.
You can purchase a novel from The Homeward Trilogy at amazon.com, christianbook.com, barnesandnoble.com, or directly from the publisher at www.davidccook.com.