Thursday, February 19, 2015

Miracle at the Higher Grounds Cafe by Max Lucado

Max Lucado, author of countless inspirational Christian books has now written a new fiction novel, Miracle at the Higher Grounds Cafe.  Anyone who has enjoyed Lucado's empowering works such as You'll Get Through This and Great Day Every Day, will be familiar with the bible based encouragement that will motivate and strengthen the faith of even the most apathetic and depressed readers.  This fiction novel is entirely different, in contrast to Lucado's deeply inspirational messages which reach out to grief stricken readers going through difficult trials- this is a light hearted fairy tale for grownups, with a happy ending.  It is as if Max Lucado wanted to take a break from his serious writing and ministry, and came up with this piece.  Lucado has tackled some pretty heavy topics in his books, so one can not be surprised that he may need a mini break. The presentation of this book, with its textured pastel cover featuring an illustration of a large cup of coffee with angel wings shaped steam is certain to draw in the reader.

From the start, this book is easy to read and easy to follow. Since this is a Lucado book, the reader will note that Max Lucado does insert brief biblical messages where he can. The plot is simple and not offensive.  There are no disturbing elements or issues raised. Even secular readers won't find anything to dislike about a clumsy, ethnic, kind hearted guardian angel who is sent down from heaven to help the heroine, Chelsea Chambers.  In the midst of a trial separation from her famous football player husband, Chelsea uproots her two kids to run a quaint cafe that she inherited after her mother passed away.  Although there are unexpected trials like finding out that her husband's millions have been squandered away, Chelsea is fortunate to be able to have the independence and the finances needed to relocate the kids for a hiatus, to a new home, new school and new town for a trial separation. While she finds she must worry about IRS debt and a payment plan for the cafe, she is never in a completely dire situation.  In otherwords, her kids with their iphones and cafe breakfasts never have to worry about being hungry and homeless, as Chelsea is able to provide for their needs and dedicate her energies full time to running the  cafe without having to find a  second job. While her ex made poor financial choices and cheated- which is bad enough in of itself, he is not depicted as abusive, manipulative or crazy.  In other-words there or no threats of custody disputes or social service visits, lingering over Chelsea's head.  She does not have to lie awake in bed at night and worry about having her kids taken from her. Not only that she has  full  autonomy  and freedom to move out of town to relocate the kids.  Her ex was depicted  as a harmless, remorseful puppy simply waiting for her to come home.   One could not find a better arrangement with an ex. Even in her separation she had security.  Perhaps these elements of financial security, independence and mobility will make this book more appealing to the upper socio-economic class of readers who are more likely to relate to Chelsea's background and lifestyle. But I believe this drama- free plot, as unlikely as it may seem, reduces the  distraction from the main focus of the book which is not Chelsea's marital situation but primarily the cafe and the miracles which take place.

Unexpectedly, her cafe becomes a conduit for communication with the divine.  In the mix are supernatural elements involving guardian angels. Its a nice story to read. Although this book is clearly meant for lighthearted reading, and is fiction and not theology, first and foremost, I found it insightful when the guardian angel was eager to act on Chelsea's behalf but was told that he specifically had to wait until asked.  In other words, he could not intervene unless Chelsea prayed.  I felt that was an important point for all readers, and it was refreshing to read at least a small bit of accurate, albeit, subtle, biblical theology found its way into this book. Nevertheless, I believe many gullible readers will take this book at face value and may even believe that this book is portraying an account of a visitation.  In light of all the new books published on heavenly visits, messages and apparitions, I believe there are large numbers of confused readers who have no idea of what to believe as they confuse reality, with fiction and theology with false, counterfeit ideas.

For anyone who wants a spiritual fiction story, light hearted reading with a happy ending,  incorporating the best of popular culture: blogs, angels, and coffee- this is the book for you.  It would also make a good gift idea placed in a gift basket with a bag of coffee and a mug or with a coffee shop gift card for a good friend. Sometimes a reader needs a mental break, and this wholesome work of fiction is a better choice than the morally devoid and offensive novels that  saturate the market today.  As a blogger for Litfuse publicity I received a copy of this book published by Thomas Nelson publishers for the purpose of writing this review.

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