Fab Four Book Picks

Book reviews by the Fab Four and our Fab Friends

Friday, December 15, 2006

Review of A BIGGER LIFE by Annette Smith adn Author Interview

ISBN: 1-57683-995-8



Annette Smith, author of a dozen books, is a writer by day and a hospice nurse by night. Her first book of short stories, The Whispers of angles, sold more than 100,000 copies. A lifelong Texan, Annette lives in Quitman, Texas with her husband Randy. The intimiate scenes and emotions she witnesses in her hospice work brings a richness and poignancy to her writing.


How has A Bigger Life been different from other novels that you've written?

My other novels have been what I call gentle fiction, as in Mayberry meets Mitford. In those books, I wrote about the struggles and challenges of flawed but faithful Christians. The characters were much like people I know, similar to the folks I cross paths with every day. The setting was one in which I felt comfortable. The endings were tidy and happy.

A Bigger Life is a much grittier novel, one that deals with difficult, contemporary issues and problems. The main character is someone very different from me. The ending is hopeful, rather than happy. When writing the book, I had a bit of anxiety about how readers of my earlier works would respond to this novel. So far the response from early readers has been overwhelmingly positive.

Tell us how this story came to you.

Nearly two years ago, at my young adult daughter's insistence that I do something about my hair, I visited a new salon. It was there that I met Paul C. He was a twenty-seven-year-old, straight, male hairstylist who was the single parent of a three-year-old little boy, whose mother had died only weeks before. During the two hours I sat in his chair, Paul shared bits and pieces of his life. His story was incredibly poignant, rich, and true. I was so moved by his words, so captivated by his voice and his spirit, that I could not get home fast enough to get him down on paper.

A Bigger Life is fiction. The plot of the book is completely different from Paul's life story. However the voice, passion, and sensitivities are his.

Since that first meeting, Paul and I have become friends. We communicate regularly. It's an odd relationship, me, a forty-something, mainstream wife and mom who's been a Christian all my life, him a post-modern, single dad who only recently came to know God. We could not come from two more divergent worlds, yet somehow it works. The love and respect we have for each other has enriched my life. I am not the same person I was two years ago. I believe Paul would tell you the same is true of him.

Has your hairdresser Paul read the book? What does he think?

Paul has read the first chapter of the book. It is posted on my website. However, he has chosen to wait until the book is released to read the rest. I think it must be an weird feeling to know someone is writing about you and your life. However, from the very beginning, Paul has been enthusiastic and supportive. He gave me free rein to write about anything and everything he's shared.

It will be an exciting day for both of us when I place a finished copy in his hands. My hope is that he will feel that I have honored him and his life.

What difficulties did you encounter writing this novel?

Writing from the male point of view was a challenge but great fun. I had two male readers who let me know when I veered off course. They were a tremendous help. It thrills me to hear readers' disbelief that the book was written by a woman.

Another challenge was the book's touchy subject matter. This is a story that deals with temptation, sin, and its consequences. Certain scenes were difficult to write realistically and emotionally without offending or titillating. I worked very hard to get them right. From the responses I'm getting, I believe I succeeded in reaching a good balance between realism and propriety.

What do you see as the central theme of this novel?

Everyone suffers. Everyone is in need of God's unconditional love and mercy. We, His children, are called upon to see each other with His eyes, to love as He loved, to serve as he served.


A BIGGER LIFE is a book I won't soon forget. Had I not previously known the author was female, I would have guessed the book written by a man. Written from the POV of Joel in first person about his life with his wife and son, the emotion in this story riveted my eyes and heart to every page. I laughed SO hard at the "accident" in the dentist's parking lot because I've SO been there. This book seemed so real, it could have been about real people instead of fiction. A young, struggling marriage and the characters' journey tugged my heart strings. I don't want to give any spoilers, but the way Annette penned the snappy, realistic dialogue, and the internal monologue makes the characters easy to identify with. Certain parts (GET THE BOOK!!!) made me ball my eyes out, and the message deep in this story really, really touched me. I cried about that, too! I loved how the non-traditional Christians in this story were portrayed. It's how I picture what a church body is supposed to be. Really moving moments between the characters. I love howAbe called Joel out on his junk. LOVED THIS!!!

I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this deeply touching work of fiction to anyone loving family-oriented stories with emotive poignancy that will keep you thinking about the book long after you finish it.




At 8:48 PM, January 14, 2007, Blogger Annette Smith said...

Your kind review of A Bigger Life made my day! Thank you so much for the words of praise -- they made my heart sing. I so appreciate what you four are doing to promote Christian fiction. Keep up the good work!


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