5 Minutes for Books: Sometimes a Light Suprises

Looking for summer reading recommendations for you or the kids? Come browse around 5 Minutes for Books!

I’m thrilled to welcome 5 Minutes for Books reviewer Lisa today for her first guest post here at 5 Minutes for Mom:

Wife and mother, Bible teacher and blogger, Lisa loves Jesus, coffee, dark chocolate and, of course, books. Read more of her reflections at Lisa writes….

And so it falls to me to attempt to review a book I really, really liked by an author I really, really like. I think I’ve told you before that writing reviews of books I really, really like is way harder than one would think. I mean, really, how many superlatives can one use without losing credibility altogether? Think on it and get back with me. I need to know.

Meanwhile, let me tell you about my most recent favorite read (I have to say “most recent” because like most bibliophiles my favorite read changes from week to week and book to book). Sometimes a Light Surprises is Jamie Langston Turner’s newest novel and, like the rest of her books, belongs in my beloved “Southern fiction” genre.

The review quoted on the back cover of the novel describes Turner’s writing as “elegant…detailed…and richly textured.” Yes indeed. I love a good story well told and Sometimes a Light Surprises does not disappoint on either count. It is a good story, interesting, intriguing, and not neat-n-tidy but satisfying just the same. It is well told, beautifully written with honest and complex characters that are both believable and likeable.

He had drawn the curtains tightly around his soul–could he trust that glimmer of hope quietly beckoning to him? Ben Buckley has never gotten over the loss of his wife. More bewildering than the mystery surrounding her death is the radical change that occurred in her shortly beforehand–a “conversion,” she had called it. Baffled, angry, and still feeling guilty for the way he’d withdrawn from her during those final weeks, Ben now lives behind the protective walls of severed relationships and rigid routines. An unlikely young woman knocks on the door of his narrow world. Her simple honesty and childlike faith are incomprehensible to him, but in spite of his misgivings Ben finds himself on a journey he never would have begun on his own

Turner writes with an obvious English teacher prejudice (and no wonder, she’s been a teacher for 37 years, currently a professor of creative writing). In each of her novels, the main character’s story is intertwined with some literary element, poetry for example. Sometimes a Light Surprises is no different; protagonist Ben Buckley is fascinated with idioms and their origins, trivia that is interspersed throughout the novel–not overtly but as part of Ben’s conversation and characterization.

A smart, Southern novel, a good story well told, Sometimes a Light Surprises is a wonderful read.

Intrigued? Publisher Bethany House has provided an excerpt here.

Leave a comment if you’d like to win a copy
. We’ll announce the winner in next week’s column.

#66 Staci A. won the 3 Summer Bridge Workbooks. If you didn’t, I highly recommend that you check them out. I love mine!


  1. says

    Oh, I’m always looking for good books. Ilove to read and so does my two year old daughter. Right now we are reading Little House in the Big Woods together. SHe loves it!

  2. says

    Jamie Turner was my Creative Writing professor in college, and I LOVED her class! We wrote poetry, drama, short stories. . . those were the days!
    I didn’t even know about her latest book, but it’s so exciting to randomly come across a review of her work!

  3. says

    Love, love, love this writer! I just spent the last month re-reading several of her books. Thanks for letting us know about her newest one.

  4. J. Lynne Johnston says

    Jamie Langston Turner can sure “turn a phrase”. I would love to own this book. Thank you for the opportunity to do so.

  5. Beth says

    When someone says that they really liked a book I immediately want to read it! Thanks for the chance to win this one.


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