Book Club Beat - Lost Mission by Athol Dickson

Book club name and/or location: Bibliovores, northern California

Title and Author: Lost Mission by Athol Dickson

What it’s about:

Buried beneath the poverty-stricken barrios and wealthy enclaves of Southern California, a Spanish mission is uncovered during a construction project—along with evidence of a crime. When four people begin work on unraveling the mystery, they each face a moral dilemma. Will their choices perpetuate the very crime that doomed the mission hundreds of years before?

Were discussion questions available? Were they helpful?

Yes, in the back of the book. They were helpful, but discussion flowed so we didn’t have to use many.

What we liked about the book:

As always, Athol Dickson pens a beautifully written novel. We liked the rich parallels between the contemporary storyline and the storyline set in Spanish California, and the message about the twin dangers for Christians—to live too much “in the world” or to live too much “out of the world.” Also, the author’s choice to have some Catholic main characters and to look at illegal immigration from a fresh perspective impressed us.

Anything we would change about the book?

Most of us took some time getting into the book and figuring out the flow of the storyline. Some felt the transitions between the two storylines weren’t clearly delineated. Also, this novel is written in the style of “magical realism,” and not everyone liked the magical/miraculous aspects of the book—but others did.

Fun connections (did the story inspire food, decorations, favors, service projects, etc.)?

To honor the story’s Mexican and Spanish California flavor, we ate enchiladas and Mexican-inspired bean salad and corn salad. We also complimented the hostess on how her napkins and placemats coordinated with the book cover.

Deep connections (this story made us think about the following discussion topics):

We discussed illegal immigration and what it means to follow Jesus’ command to live “in the world but not of it.” We talked about how easy it is to start off with good, godly intentions and veer into something dangerous if we aren’t vigilant. This book sparked very interesting conversation.

Do you recommend this book for other book clubs?

Yes, but only if your book club likes a more difficult read that challenges assumptions Christians easily make—and a book not everyone will get into. This is not a beach read.

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