Review: House of Living Stones

Image from Katie Schuermann‘s website.

Author: Katie Schuermann

Publisher: Concordia Publishing House

My brother-in-law suggested this book quite a while back. I can’t remember why, but he thought I’d like it. I forgot to order it, but then a couple of months ago, I saw the author’s name in the Lutheran Witness and thought, well, I should probably get this book. I don’t know what I was thinking for waiting so long to get this book. But still, I also think I read it in a perfect season of my life. Katie Schuermann’s House of Living Stones is a wonderful novel for anyone who loves realist literature. This book will make you laugh, cry, and feel with the characters you are reading about. And maybe you’ll find yourself between the pages as well.

The plot of this book focuses on a quiet town and the members of a particular church. Seen through the eyes of multiple characters, their world is moved when a new organist is hired for the church. Painful stories are brought to the surface, old wounds are reopened, and a chance at new life and love is waiting – if only the busybodies (and the past) would stay out of the way. You’ll meet all of the usual suspects you’d find in a small town. There’s the young pastor, the particular secretary, the micromanaging matron, the best friend, the nosy know-it-all, and the crotchety old man. There are other great characters too, and you will come to love them all (well, some you will love only as an actor, but many you will wish to be your friend) and the stories they bring with them.

As the wife of a church worker, I felt particularly connected to many parts of this book. Within the first page, I knew House of Living Stones could have only been written by someone who was deeply involved in the inner workings of the church with all of her various members. I’ve known each of these characters in some way, and I have been some of them, too. Their stories made me laugh, and some made me cry. But through it all, I not only got a better sense of myself but also the people whom my family serves and loves. This is not to say you have to be involved in the church to love this novel. The characters are engaging all on their own. I also appreciated the manner in which Schuermann addressed some tough subjects, such as death, love, gossip, friendship, sexuality, and salvation. House of Living Stones isn’t just a fantastic narrative, though it is that; this is a story about life, a story that is real, a story that is meaningful.

If you are a person who loves to read a beautiful novel with personable characters, a compelling plot with interesting twists, and writing that will make you forget what day it is (yes, this happened to me!), this is the book for you. Smile at the chapter headings, laugh and cry with the people you meet, and dive into this wonderful story found in a little quiet Midwest town. I can hardly wait to get my hands on the next book in the series (oh, did I mention there was more than one??).

Blessings to you and yours,

~Madelyn Rose Craig

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