Saturday, January 24, 2009

Faith 'n Fiction Saturdays: What's on Your Keeper Shelf?

Another of Amy's Faith 'n' Fiction questions!

This from Amy:~
"One thing we share in common is a love of books. I know there are participants of Faith 'n Fiction Saturdays that read over 200 books a year! But while we may read a lot of books, only a few books in our lifetimes are special enough that we would never part with them, always recommend them, and maybe even reread them. So...what fiction books with faith elements are on your keeper shelf?

Please keep your answers to no more than 5 books!"

My answer
(Amy allowed series to be considered one selection!):

1. The O'Malley series by Dee Henderson. Great books! Romance and mystery put in together... I love it!

2. Jane Austen series by Debra White Smith. 6 of Jane Austen's books modernized. They're really well-written :)

3. Homeland Heroes series by Donna Fleisher.

4. A Life of Faith series by Martha Finley. I love 'em, I love 'em, I love 'em! Great series, and they're especially great for younger girls!

5. Hollywood Nobody series by Lisa Samson. These are great for teenagers :)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Fireflies in December by Jennifer Erin Valent

It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Fireflies in December

Tyndale House Publishers (December 8, 2008)


Jennifer Erin Valent is the winner of the Christian Writers Guild’s 2007 Operation First Novel contest for Fireflies in December, her first published novel. When she’s not penning novels, Jennifer works as a nanny and freelance writer in Richmond, VA.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers (December 8, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414324324
ISBN-13: 978-1414324326


The summer I turned thirteen, I thought I’d killed a man.

That’s a heavy burden for a girl to hang on to, but it didn’t surprise me so much to have that trouble come in the summertime. Every bad thing that ever happened to me seemed to happen in those long months.

The summer I turned five, Granny Rose died of a heart attack during the Independence Day fireworks. The summer I turned seven, my dog Skippy ran away with a tramp who jumped the train to Baltimore. And the summer I turned eleven, a drought took the corn crop and we couldn’t have any corn for my birthday, which is what I’d always done because my favorite food was corn from Daddy’s field, boiled in a big pot.

To top it off, here in the South, summers are long and hot and sticky. They drag on and on, making slow things seem slower and bad things seem worse.

The fear and guilt of the summer of 1932 still clings to my memory like the wet heat of southern Virginia. That year we had unbearable temperatures, and we had trouble, just that it was trouble of a different kind. It was the beginning of a time that taught me bad things can turn into good things, even though sometimes it takes a while for the good to come out.

The day I turned thirteen was one of those summer days when the air is so thick, you can see wavy lines above the tar on the rooftops. The kind of day when the sound of cicadas vibrates in your ears and everything smells like grass.

On that day, as Momma got ready for my birthday party, I told her that I wanted nothing to do with watermelon this year.

“We have some fine ones,” she told me. “Just don’t eat any.”

“But the boys will spit the seeds at us like they do all the time,” I said. “And they’ll hit me extra hard today since it’s my birthday.”

“I’ll tell them not to,” she said absentmindedly as she checked her recipe again with that squinched-up look she always got when trying to concentrate.

I knew I was only another argument or two from being scolded, but I tried again. “Those boys won’t listen to you.”

“Those boys will listen to me if they want to eat,” she replied before muttering something about needing a cup of oleo.

“They don’t even listen to Teacher at school, Momma.”

That last reply had done it, and I stepped back a ways as Momma picked up her wooden spoon and peered at me angrily, her free hand on her apron-covered hip. “Jessilyn Lassiter, I won’t have you arguin’ with me. Now get on out of this house before your jabberin’ makes me mess up my biscuits.”

I knew better than to take another chance with her, and I went outside to sit on my tree swing. If God wasn’t going to send us any breeze for my birthday, I was bound and determined to make my own, so I started pumping my legs to work up some speed. The breeze was slight but enough to give me a little relief.

I saw Gemma come out of the house carrying a big watermelon and a long knife, and I knew she had been sent out by her momma to cut it up. Gemma’s momma helped mine with chores, and her daddy worked in the fields. Sometimes Gemma would help her momma with things, and it always made me feel guilty to see her doing chores that I should have been doing. So I dug my feet into the dry dirt below me to slow down and hopped off the swing with a long leap, puffing dust up all around me.

I wandered to the picnic table where Gemma was rolling the green melon around to find just the right spot to cut into. “I guess this is for my party.”

“That’s what your momma says.”

“Are you comin’?”

“My momma never lets me come to your parties.”

“So? Ain’t never a time you can’t start somethin’ new. It’s my party, anyways.”

“It ain’t proper for the help to socialize with the family’s friends, Momma says.”

“Your momma and daddy have been workin’ here for as long as I can remember. You’re as close to family as we got around here, as I see it. I ain’t got no grandparents or nothin’.”

Gemma scoffed at me with a sarcastic laugh. “When was the last time you saw one brown girl and one white girl in the same family?”

I shrugged and watched her slice through the watermelon, both of us backing away to avoid the squirting juices.

“Looks like a good one,” Gemma said as the fragrant smell floated by on the first bit of a breeze we’d seen all day.

“All I see are seeds for the boys to hit me with.”

“Why do you let them boys pick on you?”

“I don’t let ’em. I always push ’em or somethin’. But they’re all bigger than me. What do you want me to do? Pick a fight?”

“Guess not.” A piece of the melon’s flesh flopped onto the table as Gemma cut it, and she popped it into her mouth thoughtfully. “I’ll never know why boys got to be so mean.”

“It’s part of their recipe, I guess.” I helped by piling the slices on a big platter, and I strategically picked as many seeds as I could find off the pieces before I stacked them. Never mind my dirty hands. “You come by around two o’clock,” I told her adamantly. “I’ll get you some cake and lemonade. You’re my best friend. You should be at my party.”

Gemma shushed me and shoved an elbow into my ribs as her momma went walking by us.

“Gemma Teague,” her momma said, “you girls gettin’ your chores done?”

“Ain’t got no chores of my own, Miss Opal,” I told her. “I figured on helpin’ Gemma instead.”

“Then you two make certain you keep your minds on your work, ya hear?”

“Yes’m,” we both mumbled.

Gemma’s momma walked past, but she looked back at us a couple times with a funny look on her face like she figured we were planning something.

In a way we were, but I didn’t see it as being a big caper or anything, so I continued by saying, “You know, I ain’t seein’ any sense in you not at least askin’ your momma if you can come by for cake. She’s usually understandin’ about things.”

“Every year it’s the same thing from you, Jessie. She won’t let me come, and besides, I’ll bet your momma don’t want me here no more than my momma does. It just ain’t done.”

“‘It just ain’t done’!” I huffed. “Who makes up these rules, anyhow?”

Gemma kept her eyes on her work and said nothing, but I knew her well enough to see that she didn’t understand her words anymore than I did.

Momma called me from the open kitchen window, but I ignored it and kept after Gemma. “Now listen. You just come on by after we’ve cut the cake and pretend to clean up somethin’, and I’ll be sure you get some.”

“Ain’t no way I’m gettin’ in trouble for some cake and lemonade that I’ll get after the party anyhow,” she argued. “You’re just bein’ stubborn.”

I sighed when Momma called me again. “She’s gonna tell me to take a bath, I bet. You’d think at thirteen I’d be old enough to stop havin’ my momma order me to take baths.”

“You’d never take one otherwise,” Gemma said. “Ain’t nobody wants to smell you then.”

“I hate takin’ baths on days this sticky. My hair never dries.”

“Takin’ a bath on a hot day ain’t never bad.”

“It is when the water’s hot as the air is.”

Gemma shook her head at me like she always did when I was being hardheaded. “Water’s water. Cools you off any which way.”

I didn’t believe her, but I headed off to the kitchen, where Momma had filled the big metal tub we’d had to take baths in ever since the bathroom faucets broke. The sheet she’d hung across the doorway into the next room flapped as the breeze I’d prayed for began to pick up.

I hopped out of my dungarees in one quick leap and crawled into the tub. “It’s hot as boiled water,” I complained.

“Well then, we’ll have you for supper,” Momma replied as she measured out flour, obviously undisturbed by my discomfort. “Your guests will start gettin’ here in a half hour, so don’t dawdle unless you want everyone findin’ you in the tub.”


“And don’t forget to clean behind your ears.”


Water splashed as I washed with my usual lack of grace, landing droplets about the kitchen floor. It didn’t really matter since Momma always made a mess when she cooked and the floor would need cleaning after she was done. No doubt the flour and water would mix into a fine paste, though, and she’d have a few words to mutter as she tried to scrub it up. As she measured sugar, I could hear her praying, “Oh, dear Jesus, let me have enough.” Momma prayed about anything anytime, anywhere.

By the time I’d scrubbed and dried, the smell of biscuits was drifting through the house and Momma was putting the oil on for the chicken. She was a good cook, no matter the mess, and she always put on quite a show for these birthday parties.

As I walked up to my room, wrapped in a ragged blue towel, I heard Momma call after me not to forget to put on my dress. Then she added, “Please, Lord, let the girl look presentable.” I think Momma often wondered why, if she was to be blessed with a girl, she had to get one that mostly acted like a boy.

“No dungarees!” she added. “And put on your church shoes.”

I rolled my eyes, knowing she was nowhere near me. I would never have dared to do it in front of her. I hated dressing up, but for every birthday, holiday, church day, and trip into town, I had to wear one of the three dresses that Momma had made me. She was as fine with a needle as she was with a frying pan, but I hated dresses nonetheless. Mostly because when I wore them, I had to sit all proper in my chair, and I couldn’t do cartwheels, at least not without getting yelled at. But I put on the dress because I had to and buckled up my church shoes.

I could hear Daddy’s footsteps coming down the hall, and I turned to smile at him as he stopped at my doorway.

“Lookin’ pretty, dumplin’,” Daddy said.

“That’s too bad.”

“Now, now. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with a girl lookin’ like a girl.”

“Who says wearin’ dresses is the only way to look like a girl?”

Coming into the room, his dirty boots leaving marks that Momma would complain about later, Daddy tossed his hat onto a chair and helped me finish tying the bow on the back of the dress. “We don’t make the rules; we just follow ’em.”

“Well, someone had to make the rules in the first place. We should just make new ones.”

“No doubt you will one day, Jessilyn,” he said with a sigh. “But for now, you’d best follow your momma’s instructions. She ain’t one to be disobeyed.”

“Are you gonna be at the party?” I asked hopefully, knowing full well that he’d been in the fields all morning and looked in need of a nap.

“Wouldn’t miss it, you know that. I got the corn on already.” Daddy rubbed his tired eyes, picked up his hat, and walked out, whacking the hat against his leg to loosen the dust.

He worked hard, especially this time of year, and no matter how many men were willing to work the fields, he would always put in his fair share alongside them. I had suspected of late, however, that he was working harder more out of necessity than a sense of duty. We’d had fewer men to help than in years past, and it wasn’t due to lack of interest, I was sure. I’d seen my daddy turn three men away just the day before.

Things were poor, especially in our parts, and for having a working farm and a good truck, we were fortunate. We even had some conveniences that other people envied, like a fancy icebox and a telephone, and Momma was pretty proud of that. We weren’t rich like Mayor Tuttle and his wife, with their big columned house and fancy motor car, but we were thought to be well-off just the same. Momma and Daddy never talked money in front of me, and I decided not to fuss with it. It caused too many problems for adults from what I could see. What did I want to do with it?

I made my way downstairs and stepped out onto the porch, disappointed to see Buddy Pernell was the first to arrive. I didn’t like Buddy very much. But then, I didn’t like many kids very much. I thanked him for coming—mainly because Momma’s glare told me to—and received the plate of cookies his momma handed me. In those days, we didn’t give gifts at parties; it was too extravagant. But every momma felt it only proper to bring some sort of favor along.

By the time we had a full crowd, one side of the food table was filled with jars of jelly, bowls of sugared strawberries, a couple pies, and even one tub of pickled pigs’ feet. I promptly removed those, but Momma stopped me cold.

“We accept all gifts with thanks, Jessilyn,” she hissed in my ear as she replaced the tub on the table.

“Even pigs’ feet?” I argued.

“Yes ma’am! Even pigs’ feet.”

It took only ten minutes before the first watermelon seed landed in my hair. All the other girls started screaming and ran for cover, but I fought back at the boys out of sheer pride. I did a little shoving, Momma did some yelling, but I got pummeled anyhow.

After we finished eating lunch, I spotted Gemma hanging laundry on the line and ran over to get her help brushing all those sticky seeds out of my hair.

“You ought to not let ’em do this to you,” she said.

“I told you before,” I said with my eyes shut tight to stand the pain of Gemma’s brushing, “they’re all bigger than me.”

“I think they’re too big for their britches. That’s the problem.”

“Maybe so, but that don’t change nothin’. I still can’t whip ’em.”

“Well, I did the best I could.” Gemma peered closely at my sun-streaked hair. “I can’t see no more.”

“Just wait till we go swimmin’,” I told her. “I’ll find some critter to stick down Buddy Pernell’s knickers. He’s the one leadin’ the boys in the spittin’.”

“You best be careful. Them boys might do somethin’ to hurt you back.”

“I ain’t scared of them,” I lied. “Besides, they got it comin’.”

Gemma shook her head and grabbed a pair of Daddy’s socks to hang on the line. “You’re stubborn as a mule, Jessie.”

I figured she was right, but I wasn’t about to give her the satisfaction of hearing me say it. Instead, I rejoined the party, grabbed a piece of cake, and stood by watching the boys scuff about with each other, playing some kind of roughhouse tag. The other girls stood around watching the boys, giggling over how cute this one was and how strong that one was. I couldn’t figure them out.

“All that fussin’ over boys,” I said through a mouthful of frosting. “If you girls had any smarts, you’d be playin’ tag right along with ’em.”

“Why don’t you?” Ginny Lee Kidrey asked.

“I’m eatin’. Ain’t no reason to stuff down cake when I can play tag anytime I want.”

“You’re just a tomboy, Jessie Lassiter,” said Dolly Watson, who always wore dresses and perfume that smelled like dead roses. “What do you know about boys?”

“Enough to know that they ain’t worth wastin’ time on.”

The girls turned their noses up at me—all but Ginny Lee, who was the only real friend I had outside of Gemma, and even she had started to become more like the other girls of late.

The only reason I even had those other children at the party was because Momma insisted on it. She liked entertaining guests, but in our parts we didn’t have much chance to entertain, and she took every chance she got. So every year I had to invite the kids from school to interrupt my summer vacation and celebrate my June birthday with a party. The only thing I ever liked about those parties was the food. I would have been satisfied to spend my birthday having boiled corn with Gemma.

Buddy Pernell stopped in front of me and tugged at my braid. “Still stuffin’ your face?” he asked with a smirk. “Don’t you like to do nothin’ but eat?”

Knowing my short temper, all the boys loved to tease me just to see how much they could rile me. I responded to Buddy in my usual way. “I just like standin’ here watchin’ you boys beat each other up. And besides, ain’t nothin’ wrong with eatin’.”

“There is if it makes you fat.”

“I ain’t fat!”

“You keep eatin’ like that and you’ll be fat as your momma.”

Now, my momma wasn’t fat. I knew that as well as I knew that Buddy Pernell’s momma was. But it didn’t matter. True or not, he’d insulted my momma, and it took me no time at all to react by shoving what was left of my cake right into Buddy’s face, making extra sure to push upward so the frosting would fill his freckled nose.

Buddy wasn’t so brave then. He began clawing at his face like I’d thrown acid on it, crying something fierce about not being able to breathe.

Momma ran over, hysterical, simultaneously scolding me and coddling Buddy. I responded to her by saying I’d never heard of anyone suffocating on cake before, but she didn’t appreciate my rationalizing. I got a whack from her left hand and Buddy got a wipe across his face from her right.

The other boys were laughing, throwing insults at Buddy about how he’d gotten shown up by a girl, but he was too worried about not being able to breathe through his nose to hear them.

I watched with a smile as Buddy’s momma grabbed a cloth and ordered him to blow his nose into it. Buddy blew like his brains needed to come out, and eventually he found that he was able to breathe right again, although his momma insisted on getting a good look up his nose to be certain that it was clear of frosting.

The boys loved the picture of Buddy having his nose inspected by his momma, and they couldn’t get enough of the jokes about it.

I got hauled into the house for a scolding and a whipping. I tried telling Momma that thirteen was too old for whippings, but she said if I was acting like a child, I should be punished like one. Every time I got another whack with that wooden spoon, I thought of a new way to make Buddy pay for the walloping. After all, if he hadn’t made fun of my momma, I wouldn’t have made him snort up that cake.

I took my punishment without explaining because I didn’t want to hurt Momma’s feelings by telling her what Buddy had said, and I made my way slowly and sorely back out to the party with revenge in my mind.

Gemma saw the silent tears that I’d been biting my lip to keep from letting out, and she came over to wipe them with her apron.

I smiled at her halfway. “I’m okay. At least I will be once I get back at Buddy.”

“Get back at him? He’s the one who’ll be wantin’ to get back at you.”

“Just let him try. I wouldn’t have gotten that whippin’ if he hadn’t made fun of my momma in the first place.”

“Don’t you go talkin’ like that. He’s already got it in for you, and if you do anythin’ else, he’ll go and do somethin’ awful.”

“I ain’t afraid of him!”

Gemma shook her braided head at me. “You talk tough, but you won’t be so tough if Buddy Pernell hurts you bad.”

I sniffed at her like she was worrying over nothing, but I knew deep down that I could have been asking for trouble by playing with Buddy. Boys with no sense can be dangerous, my momma had told me a few times, but my stubbornness didn’t leave any room for being cautious. I was determined to hold a grudge against Buddy, and that was that. But I could see that Buddy was keeping his eye out for his first chance to get back at me, and I watched him with a little worry in my heart as he and the other boys stood together in whispers.

I tried to pretend I wasn’t nervous, and when Gemma got called into the house, I joined the other girls, who’d gone back to twirling their hair and talking about the boys.

With the boys standing around making plans and the girls standing around watching them, my mother got irritated and told us to find something active to do. “Go on down to the swimmin’ hole. Get some exercise, for land’s sake.”

All of us girls went to my bedroom to put on our swimming suits, but with a knot in my stomach and a lump in my throat, I changed slower than them all. Gemma had been right, I figured. I’d be paying, and good, and the perfect place for Buddy to get me would be at the secluded swimming hole.

After I’d changed, I went downstairs to find my momma. “Maybe we shouldn’t go to the swimmin’ hole,” I told her while she was making up another batch of sweet tea.

“It’s hot as hades out there. It’ll do you all good.”

“It’s not that hot.”

Momma stopped scrubbing and looked at me strangely. “Were you in the same air I’ve been in today? It’s thick as molasses.”

“But swimmin’ ain’t no fun.”

“You love swimmin’.”

“Not today, I don’t.”

By now, Momma was curious, and she wiped her hands on her apron before placing them on her hips. “Why don’t you just up and tell me what’s got you so ornery?”

“I ain’t ornery!”

“Don’t argue with me, girl. If I say you’re ornery, then you’re ornery.”

I looked down at my toes and sighed. I couldn’t tell Momma that Buddy had called her fat, and I didn’t want to show her I was afraid, anyway.

“Tell me one reason why you shouldn’t go to the swimmin’ hole.”

I continued staring at my dusty feet and shrugged.

“You don’t know, I guess you’re sayin’. Well, if you ain’t got a reason, you best be headin’ out to that swimmin’ hole. I’m too busy to wonder what’s goin’ on in that silly head of yours.”

I could feel Momma watching me as I scuffed out of the kitchen without another word, letting the screen door slam behind me. I took several steps before glancing back at Momma through the window, where she stood humming some hymn I remembered hearing in church. I took a deep breath. In my dramatic mind, it was as if I were saying a final good-bye. Who knew if I’d come back from that swimming hole alive? Momma would feel pretty bad if I ended up dying, and she’d have to live the rest of her life knowing she’d sent me to my death.

Poor Momma.

My Review:

Jessilyn grows up in the summer that she turns 13. However, while she does a lot of growing up in typical girl fashion, she also grows up in areas of learning who to trust, and how to cling to your beliefs.

It's amazing to see/learn just how much prejudice there was against black people and the white people who were on their side.
I really enjoyed this book. Jennifer has written a great story about prejudice, trust, and growing up.
I wouldn't recommend it to any of the 13-year-old girls I know, but I think older teens would enjoy it very much!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Faith 'n Fiction Saturdays: Reading Plans for the New Year

Welcome to Faith 'n Fiction Saturday, a weekly meme where we discuss Christian fiction. To participate, simply write your answer on your blog, and then head over to My Friend Amy and add the permalink to your post in the Mr. Linky.

What are your reading goals for the new year? Do you have plans to read through the Bible or complete any Bible studies? Do you hope to expand your reading horizons or reread some old favorites? Do you want to read more fiction or non-fiction? Do you want to increase the amount of Christian fiction you read? Do you have any goals for reading as it relates to your blog?

My answer:
I would like to read through the Bible. I've never managed to do this, but my sister is doing a plan which sounds good :)
I would also like to get into studying the Bible more. As in, understanding and learning from it.
I'd also like to be able to review books well. Not to just give a review saying "I liked this book" but to be able to explain why I liked it, and what I didn't like about it.

Havah by Tosca Lee and My Review

It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Havah: The Story of Eve

NavPress Publishing Group (October 10, 2008)


Tosca Lee is the author of the critically acclaimed Demon: A Memoir (2007), a ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Silver Award winner, American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year nominee, and Christy award finalist. Her eagerly-awaited second novel, Havah: The Story of Eve, released October 2008 to high praise, including a starred review from Publishers Weekly.

A sought-after speaker and first runner-up to Mrs. United States 1998, Tosca works as a Senior Consultant for the Gallup Organization. She received her B.A. in English and International Relations from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. She also studied at Oxford University.

In her spare time, Tosca enjoys travel, cooking, history and theology. She currently resides in Nebraska.

Visit the author's website and blog.

Product Details:

List Price: $ 14.99

Paperback: 368 pages

Publisher: NavPress Publishing Group (October 10, 2008)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1600061249

ISBN-13: 978-1600061240



I have seen paradise and ruin. I have known bliss and terror.

I have walked with God.

And I know that God made the heart the most fragile and resilient of organs, that a lifetime of joy and pain might be encased in one mortal chamber.

I still recall my first moment of consciousness—an awareness I’ve never seen in the eyes of any of my own children at birth: the sheer ignorance and genius of consciousness, when we know nothing and accept everything.

Of course, the memory of that waking moment is fainter now, like the smell of the soil of that garden, like the leaves of the fig tree in Eden after dawn—dew and leaf green. It fades with that sense of something once tasted on the tip of the tongue, savored now in memory, replaced by the taste of something similar but never quite the same.

His breath a lost sough, the scent of earth and leaf mold that was his sweaty skin has faded too quickly. So like an Eden dawn—dew on fig leaves.

His eyes were blue, my Adam’s.

How I celebrated that color, shrouded now in shriveled eyelids—he who was never intended to have even a wrinkle! But even as I bend to smooth his cheek, my hair has become a white waterfall upon his Eden—flesh and loins that gave life to so many.

I think for a moment that I hear the One and that he is weeping. It is the first time I have heard him in so long, and my heart cries out: He is dead! My father, my brother, my love!

I envy the earth that envelopes him. I envy the dust that comes of him and my children who sow and eat of it.

This language of Adam’s—the word that meant merely “man” before it was his name—given him by God himself, is now mine. And this is my love song. I will craft these words into the likeness of the man before I, too, return to the earth of Adam’s bosom.

My story has been told in only the barest of terms. It is time you heard it all. It is my testament to the strength of the heart, which has such capacity for joy, such space for sorrow, like a vessel that fills and fills without bursting.

My seasons are nearly as many as a thousand. So now listen, sons, and hear me, daughters. I, Havah, fashioned by God of Adam say this:

In the beginning, there was God . . .

But for me, there was Adam.

The Garden

Chapter 1

A whisper in my ear: Wake!

Blue. A sea awash with nothing but a drifting bit of down, flotsam on an invisible current. I closed my eyes. Light illuminated the thin tissues of my eyelids.

A bird trilled. Near my ear: the percussive buzz of an insect. Overhead, tree boughs stirred in the warming air.

I lay on a soft bed of herbs and grass that tickled my cheek, my shoulders, and the arch of my foot, whispering sibilant secrets up to the trees.

From here, I felt the thrum of the sap in the stem; the pulsing veins of the vine; the beat of my heart in euphony with hundreds more around me; the movement of the earth a thousand miles beneath.

I sighed as one returning to sleep, to retreat to the place I had been before, the realm of silence and bliss—wherever that is.


I opened my eyes again upon the milling blue, saw it spliced by the flight of a bird, chevron in the sky.

This time, the voice came not to my ear, but directly to my stirring mind: Wake!

There was amusement in it.

I knew nothing of where or what I was, did not understand the polyphony around me or the wide expanse like a blue eternity before me.

But I woke and knew I was alive.

A rustle, a groan practically in my ear. I twitched at a stirring against my hip. A moment later, a touch drifted across a belly I did not yet know I owned, soft as a leaf skittering along the ground.

A face obscured my vision. I screamed. Not with fear—I was no acquaintance of fear—nor with startlement, because I had been aware of the presence already, but because it was the only statement that came to lips as artless as mine.

The face disappeared and returned, blinking into my own, the blue above captured in twin pools . Then, like a gush of water from a rock, gladness thrilled my heart. But its source was not me.

At last! It came, unspoken—a different source than the voice before—the words thrust jubilantly to the sky: “At last!”

He was up on legs like the trunks of sturdy saplings, beating at the earth with his feet. He thumped his chest and shouted to the sun and clapped his hands. “At last!” he cried, his laughter like warm clay between the toes. He shook his shoulders and stomped the grass, slapping his chest as he shouted again and again. Though I did not understand the utterance, I knew its meaning at once: joy and exultation at something longed for suddenly found.

I tried to mimic his sound; it came out as a squawk and then a panting laugh. Overhead, a lark chattered an extravagant address. I squeaked a shrill reply. The face lowered to mine, and the man’s arms wrapped, womb-tight, around me.

“Flesh of my flesh,” he whispered, hot against my ear. His fingers drifted from my hair to my body, roaming like the goat on the hills of the Sacred Mount. I sighed, expelling the last remnants of that first air from my lungs—the last of the breath in them not drawn by me alone.

He was high-cheeked, this adam, his lower lip dipping down like a folded leaf that drips sweet water to thirsty mouths. His brow was a hawk, soaring above the high cliffs, his eyes blue lusters beneath the fan of his lashes. But it was his mouth that I always came back to, where my eyes liked best to fasten after taking in the shock of those eyes. Shadow ran along his jaw, obsidian dust clinging to the curve of it, drawing my eye to the plush flesh of his lips, again, again, again.

He touched my face and traced my mouth. I bit his finger. He gathered my hands and studied them, turning them over and back. He smelled my hair and lingered at my breasts and gazed curiously at the rest of me. When he was finished, he began all over again, tasting my cheek and the salt of my neck, tracing the instep of my foot with a fingertip.

Finally, he gathered me up, and my vision tilted to involve an altogether new realm: the earth and my brown legs upon it. I clutched at him. I seemed a giant, towering above the earth—a giant as tall as he. My first steps stuttered across the ground as the deer in the hour of its birth, but then I pushed his hands away. My legs, coltish and lean, found their vigor as he urged me, walking far too fast, to keep up. He made for the orchard, and I bolted after him with a surge of strength and another of my squawking sounds. Then we were running—through grasses and over fledgling sloes, the dark wool of my hair flying behind me.

We raced across the valley floor, and my new world blurred around me: hyssop and poppy, anemone, narcissus, and lily. Roses grew on the foothills amidst the caper and myrtle.

A blur beside me: the long-bodied great cat. I slowed, distracted by her fluidity, the smooth curve of her head as she tilted it to my outstretched hand. I fell to the ground, twining my arms around her, fingers sliding along her pelt. Her tongue was rough—unlike the adam’s—and she rumbled as she rolled against me.

Far ahead, the adam called. Overhead, a hawk circled for a closer look. The fallow deer at a nearby stream lifted her head.

The adam called again, wordlessly: longing and exuberance. I got up and began to run, the lioness at my heels. I was fast—nearly as fast as she. Exhilaration rose from my lungs in quick pants—in laughter. Then, with a burst, she was beyond me.

She was gone by the time the adam caught me up in his arms. His hands stroked my back, his lips, my shoulder. I marveled at his skin—how smooth, how very warm it was.

“You are magnificent,” he said, burying his face against me. “Ah, Isha—woman, taken from man!”

I said nothing; although I understood his meaning, I did not know his words. I knew with certainty and no notion of conceit, though, that he was right.

At the river he showed me how he cupped his hands to drink, and then cupped them again for me. I lowered my head and drank as a carp peered baldy from the shallows up at me.

We entered the water. I gasped as it tickled the backs of my knees and hot hairs under my arms, swirling about my waist as though around a staunch rock as our toes skimmed a multitude of pebbles. I wrapped my arm around his shoulders.

“All of this: water,” he said, grunting a little bit as he swam toward the middle of the river where it widened into a broad swath across the valley floor. “Here—the current.”

“Water,” I said, understanding in the moment I spoke it the element in all its forms—from the lake fed by the river to the high springs that flow from the abyss of the Mount. I felt the pull of it as though it had a gravity all its own—as though it could sweep me out to the cold depths of the lake and lull me by the tides of the moon.

From the river I could see the high walls of our cradle: the great southern Mount rising to heaven, and to the north, the foothills that became the long spine of a range that arched toward the great lake to the west.

I knew even then that this was a place set apart from the unseen lands to the north, the alluvial plain to the south, the great waters to the east and far to the west.

It was set apart solely because we dwelt in it.

But we were not alone. I could see them, after a time, even as we left the river and lay upon its banks. I saw them in sidelong glances when I looked at something else: a sunspot caught in the eye, a ripple in the air, a shock of light where there should be only shadow. And so I knew there were other beings, too.

The adam, who studied me, said nothing. We did not know their names.

The first voice I heard urging me to wake had not been the man’s. Now I felt the presence of it near me, closer than the air, than even the adam’s arms around me.

I returned the man’s strange amazement, taken by his smooth, dark skin, the narrowness of his hips, his strange sex. He was warmer than I, as though he had absorbed the heat of the sun, and I laid my cheek against his flat breasts and listened to the changeling beat of his heart. My limbs, so fresh to me, grew heavy. As languor overtook me, I retreated from the sight of my lovely, alien world.

Perhaps in closing my eyes, I would return to the place I had been before.

For the first time since waking, I hoped not.

I slept to the familiar thrum of his heart as insects made sounds like sleepy twitches through the waning day.

When I woke, his cheek was resting against the top of my head. Emotion streamed from his heart, though his lips were silent.


I am the treasure mined from the rock, the gem prized from the mount.

He stirred only when I did and released me with great reluctance. By then the sun had moved along the length of our valley. My stomach murmured.

He led me to the orchard and fed me the firm flesh of plums, biting carefully around the pits and feeding the pieces to me until juice ran down our chins and bees came to sample it. He kissed my fingers and hands and laid his cheek against my palms.

That evening we lay in a bower of hyssop and rushes—a bower, I realized, that he must have made it on a day before this one.

A day before I existed.

We observed together the changing sky as it cooled gold and russet and purple, finally anointing the clay earth red.

Taken from me. Flesh of my flesh. At last. I heard the timbre of his voice in my head in my last waking moment. Marvel and wonder were upon his lips as he kissed my closing eyes.

I knew then he would do anything for me.

That night I dreamed of blackness. Black, greater than the depths of the river or the great abyss beneath the lake.

From within that nothingness there came a voice that was not a voice, that was neither sound nor word but volition and command and genesis. And from the voice, a word that was no word but the language of power and genesis and fruition.

There! A mote spark—a light first so small as the tip of a pine needle. It exploded past the periphery of my dreaming vision, obliterating the dark. The heavens were vast in an instant, stretching without cease to the edges of eternity.

I careened past new bodies that tugged me in every direction; even the tiniest particles possessed their own gravity. From each of them came the same concert, that symphony of energy and light.

I came to stand upon the earth. It was a great welter of water, the surface of it ablaze with the refracted light of heavens upon heavens. It shook my every fiber, like a string that is plucked and allowed to resonate forever.

I was galvanized, made anew, thrumming that inaugural sound: the yawning of eternity.

Amidst it all came the unmistakable command:


My Review:
I am so so sorry that I didn't post this on January 1st! I was away, had no internet connection, and couldn't pre-post it because the html wasn't available when I left.

Anyway, I enjoyed 'Havah'. It was a different look at a story that I'd grown up knowing. I hadn't really thought much about how different it would be for them after they had to leave the Garden of Eden, and this opened up my eyes.
Also, it made me think about why it mattered so much to Cain (Kayin) that his sacrifice wasn't accepted. A very good read, but not one that I would recommend to young teenagers.