At the Oregon Christian Writers (OCW) conference this summer, I had the pleasure of meeting Christina Suzann Nelson, author of If We Make It Home. Christina won the OCW Writer of Promise Award, a well-deserved honor.
I picked up Christina’s book in the OCW conference bookstore, not realizing it wasn’t yet available and I was getting an advance copy. I even got it signed!
The description on the back cover drew me into this story of “four college friends [who] graduated from the University of Northwest Oregon, their lives stretched before them, full of promise and vows to stay connected.” I thought of my own three college roommates and me, who graduated from an eastern Washington college with plans to stay in touch. The remaining description promised a unique story about characters I knew I’d love.
I opened to the first page the weekend after the conference and finished the book within a week. When I should have been doing writing of my own, I was instead drawn into the lives and struggles of Ireland, Jenna, and Victoria as they journeyed to their college for a reunion, with hopes of seeing their fourth roommate, Hope.
The story is recounted from the alternating perspectives of these three characters, which could have led to a great deal of confusion if not done well. However, Christina introduced each character so well in the first three chapters that even if I missed a name-heading on a subsequent chapter, I could tell whose viewpoint I was reading.
I found myself trying to decide which character best summed up each of my college roommates, and which best summed up me. Although we four have kept in touch since college, are quite close, and wouldn’t be caught dead going on an outdoor survival adventure, there were parallels between our personalities and the personalities of the characters of this book. I think that is a testament to Christina’s ability to craft realistic and recognizable characters.
When I turned the last page, I thought I had two more to go, only to find those last two pages were acknowledgements. An overwhelming sadness hit me to be at the end of the story, at the close of my interactions with these wonderful characters, two pages earlier than I had prepared myself for. I want to have coffee, or tea, with each of them to find out what happened next.
But alas, one cannot sit down to coffee with a fictional character. But I can wait patiently for Christina’s next novel. Whether it involves these characters, or a whole new roster, I’m sure it will be worth the wait.