Thursday, September 19, 2013

Review: Splitting Harriet by Tamara Leigh

It's been 10 years since Harriet ripped the commemorative name plaque off "her pew", walking out the door of her parents' church and deep into her rebellion.  It's been 8 years since she came crawling home, straight from the bottom of her own ugly pit.  She's spent the last 8 years hiding from temptation, burying herself in God's Word, serving her church family, and trying to prove to everyone (including herself) that she's a new Harri, and the old Harri is long gone. She's created a safe bubble to live in, but that bubble is about to pop.

The new pastor of her church is making changes that are upsetting Harri's world and taking her way beyond her comfort zone.  She goes ballistic when she finds out he's shutting down the organ and replacing it with drums and guitars ... but there's more to come.  Brother Paul has hired a church consultant, Maddox McCray, to advise them on how best to reach out to their community.  Motorcycle-riding, tattoo-bearing Maddox, who walks in and disrupts not only Harri's church, but also her heart, her plans, and her safe little bubble-world. In the process, Harri has to learn to forgive herself as well as learn to trust again.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the story of Harri, Maddox, and the First Grace Church family.  Tamara Leigh keeps the story light, and full of banter, without diminishing Harri's struggles.  I'm not fond of tear-jerker books, and would much rather laugh my way through a book than cry through one.  Even though Harri has hit rock-bottom in her past, and even though she's still facing difficult lessons, Splitting Harriet is humorous and encouraging. 

While Harri is learning to live and trust again, the reader is shown how to handle (or how not to handle) self-recrimination, and potentially church-splitting issues within a church family. Having been through a church split myself, I was very interested in the sub-theme of modernizing the church, reaching out to younger community members, and how different characters dealt with the changes.  Tamara Leigh gracefully tackled the difficult question of "should the church change to reach its community?" and even the often unspoken question "do we really want those people to come to our church?" 

I can honestly say that I've never read a book like Splitting Harriet before.  Its style and topic were unique, and the book was refreshing.  Okay, so maybe it was a little obvious that in the end Harri was going to fall for the slightly dangerous and maddening Maddox instead of the sophisticated Stephano, but I didn't mind.  I enjoyed the ride almost as much as Harri enjoys a ride on Maddox' 1298cc motorcycle ... even if she won't admit it.

You can read an excerpt from Splitting Harriet here.

About the Author:

Tamara Leigh began her writing career in 1994 and is the best-selling author of fourteen novels, including Splitting Harriet (ACFW Book of the Year winner and RITA Award finalist), Faking Grace (RITA Award Finalist), and Leaving Carolina. A former speech and language pathologist, Tamara enjoys time with her family, faux painting, and reading. She lives with her husband and their sons in Tennessee and can be found at

Splitting Harriet was published by WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.  A copy of the book was provided to me free, by Blogging For Books, in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was received.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed it too. It is unusual, isn't it? But it does truly present the gospel, and does so in a novel way that might appeal to a completely different demographic.


I love to hear from you. Thanks for your comment!