Enter below for a chance to win a signed copy of The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn!
Oh, the covers might be beautifully colorful, with lavish historical costumes and inviting landscapes. But with a few notable exceptions, the main characters are almost always… white.
Never mind the large and vibrant populations of Asian-American, African-American, and Hispanic-American Christians in this land—in most Christian novels, non-Caucasian characters seem largely relegated to minor or sidekick roles, much like in most Hollywood movies.
Quality books with culturally diverse characters do exist, like Neta Jackson’s Yada Yada series and even an occasional historical like Lynn Austin’s A Light to My Path. But they’re few and far between, and seldom in the spotlight. It’s not just that writers aren’t writing characters of color, but that those who do, or who come from non-white backgrounds themselves, tend to have a tougher sell no matter how strong their stories.
It grieves me. Shouldn’t Christian artists be the ones to lead the way in embracing diversity, with verses like Acts 17:26 and John 17:22-23 to set us straight? I know I don’t understand all the complexities behind this issue. Still, I wish as writers, readers, and publishers, we might find a way to come together in representing more the fullness of Christ’s body in the books we write to honor Him.
That’s just one reason why I love Lori Benton and her books so much. Her triple Christy Award-winning debut novel Burning Sky has been gathering awards like bees to nectar this past year, and deservedly so. And while Burning Sky has a strongly sympathetic and accurate Native American component, including a Mohawk main character, it has broken into the mainstream Christian historical fiction market with an epic splash.
Of course, Lori’s breathtakingly beautiful writing and story-craft have something to do with that. And now, just this spring, she has released a second novel, The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn. I was so excited when my package from Amazon finally arrived containing this book…and it even exceeded my high expectations after Burning Sky.
Once again, Lori gently pushes the cultural boundaries of the Christian market (I won’t tell you how—I’d give away some important points of the story!). Yet she does so while staying solidly within the historical romance framework established in mainstream Christian fiction, albeit one of unusual beauty, novelty, and depth. It’s been some time since I LOVED a story like I did this one.
Tamsen Littlejohn has been raised in wealth and privilege, yet to escape her scheming stepfather’s talons, she flees into the early North Carolina wilderness under the unexpected protection of frontiersman Jesse Bird and his mysterious adopted father Cade. It’s a journey that tests her courage, endurance, and faith, yet as she lets herself be stretched and grown, Tamsen finds new life and love and becomes who she was meant to be.
It’s an exquisite treat of a book, and one the Lord spoke to me through as well…one night a character read to another just the scripture I needed to hear. In the eighteenth century language I didn’t even recognize the familiar text at first, until recognition broke through and brought tears to my eyes.
So…drumroll please! Like the gracious lady she is, Lori Benton has offered to give away one signed copy of The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn on this blog! To enter the drawing, please comment below with your email address by Monday, July 28. The winner will be announced Wednesday, July 30. And win or not, please do check out The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn, as well as Burning Sky. Whether you’re interested in history and cultures or just love a good book, I think you’ll be blessed!
Do you think characters (and writers) from ethnically diverse backgrounds are underrepresented in Christian fiction? If so, does this bother you? What do you think we should do about it?