Wednesday, December 17, 2008

CFBA Blog Tour: Neta Jackson's "Where Do I Go?"

A story of seeking-and finding-God's will in unlikely places.

Woo hoo! I've been waiting so long to read this book. I'm a fan of Neta Jackson. Have been ever since the Yada Yada Prayer Group Book One came out. She didn't expect it to be more than a stand-alone book, and one book evolved into six. About this time last year, I read the last one which had a Christmas theme and felt as though I were saying farewell to many good friends, never to be seen again. I comforted myself by listening to the earlier books on audio while I walked, but even those came to an end because only the first four were ever recorded.

Then Neta and her husband Dave, who is an author in his own right, visited my local ACFW chapter last July and announced that she had a new series coming out that would be set in Manna House, the women's homeless shelter that had become so prominent in the Yada Yada stories. And, although the stories would have a new protagonist, the Yada Yada's would be making "cameo" appearances throughout. I was very stoked.

Last week I received my copy of Where Do I Go and dove right in. What fun to meet Gabby Fairbanks, this series' new heroine, and so delightful to reunite with many of the Yada Yada's. It felt like old homeweek to me. There was Josh and Edesa as newlyweds, and Estelle. and Avis. Of course, Jodie the protag in the Yada Yada books. popped up too. It did seem a little different to have her not be the storyteller (the books are in first person POV) and to see her from the perspective of someone who didn't know her backstory. But it was kind of fun to have that perspective that Jodie couldn't give herself in her own words.

The storyline brings Gabby, a newcomer to Chicago and well-to do living on Chicago's glorious lakefront in a highrise penthouse, down to earth when she encounters a bag lady. That leads to her being introduced to Manna House and, before she knows it, she finds herself applying to work there. You can imagine how this goes over with Philip her husband who comes down from proper Virgina stock and has always lived in high places, and I mean not just in penthouses mind you.

If you are a Yada Yada fan, I know you will love this book. But even if Neta's writing is new to you, you will love it. She gives us a inside look into life in a Christian women's shelter and into the clashing of the lives of the rich living among the have-nots in the big city. The story reminds me of what Jesus said in Revelation 3 to the Church at Laodicia. He quoted them as saying they were rich and needed nothing more. He told them that what he has is gold refined in fire that they can become truly rich and white garments that far out-dazzle their designer threads. That was my own version. In this story Gabby finds true wealth at a shelter of homeless women and the people who serve God through serving those women than she ever found marrying into a wealthy family.

You can imagine the tension between these two worlds as Gabby struggles to keep her marriage on even keel, keep the peace with her critical mother-in-law, deal with an aging mother who lives a distance away, and be a mom to her two boys. She finally finds the answer to the question, "Where do I go?" Of course there is only one answer.

You also need to check out Dave Jackson's book, Henry Bentley's Second Chance, which uniquely is a parallel book about the doorman in Gabby's highrise building. Henry figures strongly in Neta's book and has his own story in Dave's.

Romantic Times Book Reviews says, “Exquisite characters coupled with God's mercy and love emanate from each page.”

Publisher's Weekly adds,“Jackson's Yada Yada series has sold half a million copies, and this new offshoot series ... promises the same.... The book's dramatic ending ... leav[es] readers eager for the next installment in the series.”

As a husband/wife writing team, Dave and Neta Jackson are enthusiastic about books, kids, walking with God, gospel music, and each other! Together they are the authors or coauthors of over 100 books. In addition to writing several books about Christian community, the Jacksons have coauthored numerous books with expert resource people on a variety of topics from racial reconciliation to medical ethics to ministry to kids in gangs.

Dave and Neta live in Evanston, Illinois, where for twenty-seven years they were part of Reba Place Church, a Christian church community. They are now members of a multi-racial congregation in the Chicago area.

They're trying something new! Not just new for them, but something completely new in Christian fiction: “Parallel novels,” two stories taking place in the same time frame, same neighborhood, involving some of the same characters living through their own dramas and crises but interacting with and affecting one another … just the way it happens in real life.

It’s something that only a husband and wife writing team could pull off. While Neta has Where Do I Go?, her husband Dave has written Harry Bentley's Second Chance.

You can buy Where Do I Go at Amazon. Go now, do not delay. You won't be disappointed!

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