Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Book Review: Stone Crossings by L.L. Barkat

I can remember my first encounter with L.L. Barkat; oh, about seven years ago.
I was attending a Tuesday morning women's bible study at a local church. Every year for Easter, we celebrated with a ladies' brunch. In the past, food was catered, or served potluck-style.
This time around, L.L. organized it. She took recipes from a vegetarian cookbook and gave them out to all the ladies, who were to make the recipe and bring it in on the appointed brunch-day.
The recipes were delicious: I had never tasted the like. Chickpea soup, Arugula and orange salad, cold black-eyed pea salad, curried deviled eggs. I was pregnant with my second daughter, and the food satisfied me immensely, for anything I made would make me sick.
At the end of the brunch, beautiful L.L. stood up in front of the group, and said in her calm, measured way that the entire brunch was vegetarian. She explained she wanted to open our eyes to a "Vegetarian Feast". That we could truly eat well without meat. I admired her for doing that. She had a passion for Vegetarian Eating and wanted to share it. Beyond health reasons, more as an activist.
So when I "heard" she was writing a book, it made perfect sense to me.

L.L. gives beautiful talks to our Tuesday morning bible study group. Someone once said it was like "listening to a poet laureate". I can see that.
Through her book writing process, I heard firsthand and secondhand how the writing was going. I read on her blog how the editing process was going. And then I got to hold the baby.

I think I devoured it in a weekend. Two days at least. I love memoirs, and to get more juicy details of L.L.'s life was exciting to me. (That sounds crass, but I am just being honest.)
But when I got done with the book, I thought: "How do I classify this?" Is this a memoir? Is it a "Christian spiritual book"? No mind. It was just plain good.

L.L. writes as she speaks: in calm, collected, prose and with engaging storytelling. She weaves Biblical truth through her own life experiences and shares them in written word (and spoken word). I've talked with her, and sat in small groups with her, and this book is her.
I appreciate the uniqueness of it. The fact that it cannot be defined. Her boldness is appealing. (Just as it was on that day of the brunch.)
If you are looking for a gentle, deep, read, I urge you to check out L.L. Barkat's book Stone Crossings: Finding Grace in Hard and Hidden Places.
It is a book to revisit, to underline words in, to meditate on. To help you look for grace in your own life through someone else's experience.

Now... I just need her to autograph it for me. (And get those yummy recipes!)

L.L.'s blog "Seedlings in Stone"
Her prayer and poetry blog


Ann Kroeker said...

What a great review--having met her at the festival in Michigan, I can completely "hear" her carefully chosen words delivered in soothing tones at a slow, deliberate pace.

I feel like I've gotten to know her even better through this review, too. You've made it so personal. I'm glad you've introduced her to your readers in this way.

As someone who wrote a book entitled _The Contemplative Mom_, I'm always in awe when I meet someone who so much more effectively exudes that tone and mood than I. L.L. Barkat certainly does (I think you do, too). And her book actually demonstrates on paper her contemplative mom-ness.

Excellent thoughts promoting a most thoughtful, contemplative book by a wise woman.

(p.s. Wish I'd been at the Vegetarian Feast.)

Susan L said...

Andrea, I'm so glad you wrote this compelling review! Before reading your words, had I run across this book, I would have passed right by it. I long ago gave up on most Christian writing. But you have painted such a lovely picture of this woman and her ways that I'm interested to know what's behind it all. Of course, it's the Lord, but I want to know more about *her* story with the Lord.

Thank you,
Susan L