Are you ready to have your heart broken…and maybe come alive again too?
In January, I read what just might be the must-read book for this year. Last year’s was Alana Terry’s Out of North Korea (you can read my review here). I can’t say for sure if Finding Amor will be the one for this year…it’s only February. But I think it will definitely be a good-contender. Here’s why you need to read Finding Amor this year.
This post was originally shared on the Real World Bible Study
This page contains affiliate links – they don’t cost you a penny, but they sure help to pay off those student loans! For more information, please see my disclosure page. Also, I received a review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
You aren’t ready to talk about the hot-button controversial stuff unless your heart is broken for the other side.
That sentence deserves its own blog post, and I’ll get around to it eventually. As believers, we are called into conversations and even decision-making about really hard stuff. War, guns, homosexuality, teen pregnancy, abortion, immigration. Sometimes we are very outspoken about these topics, and sometimes we keep completely silent. Sometimes we just vote. As an example, I believe politics are very important, but when I teach my Mpact Girls, we don’t talk political opinions because we want to build bridges, we want the girls to develop their own opinions, and most importantly, we want the girls to grow a foundation on God and his Word, and use that to influence their political beliefs and actions. So we don’t talk about who we voted for, but we do talk about why.
The other thing we want to teach the girls – and the church! – is the attitude from which we approach these topics. When you see signs waving or ugliness on Facebook, there is usually no personal connection between the person waving the sign and the person on the other side of the argument. As a result, Christ’s compassion doesn’t even enter the picture. This isn’t effective – it doesn’t convince anyone to come over to your side of the argument, and it sure doesn’t convince anyone that our God is worth following. I’m talking to both ends of the political spectrum here.
I’m not saying that Christians shouldn’t participate in the tough conversations of our world.
We absolutely should. And I’m not saying that we should abandon our beliefs or principles in the name of peace. I’m saying that we should have the conversation in a completely counter-cultural way. A completely different way from the animosity around us. No matter where you stand in the argument, as a believer you have to come into the conversation from the place of compassion.
You aren’t ready until your heart is broken for the other side.
The best way to do this is through personal relationships. Get to know someone who came to this country illegally. And get to know someone who was really hurt because a bad guy got through the border. Or someone who has worked at the border and watched drugs and sex slaves slip past. Sometimes this is hard to do – those people may not live in your area, or you may not know about their situation. You may not be close enough to them to broach the topic. But second best to relationship is story. Read their stories. Let your heart be broken. Pray for them.
Ana came to the US with the intention of crossing legally…and her own mother wouldn’t sponsor her.
Now for 6 years she has been separated from her son, working desperately to bring him to safety and away from the abusive home where he is growing up without her. She works hard, she learned English, she lives under the threat of abuse, and if she doesn’t break your heart, I don’t know what will. But her son Emanuel finally comes to live with her, and a church’s after-school program will change their lives forever.
My review of Finding Amor
For me, it’s not a new story. I’ve known so many kids like Emanuel in my own community, so many moms like Ana. Trapped. I think that experience and those personal relationships brought this story even closer to home for me. This book might make you laugh, cry, or think in another language. There’s a lot of Spanish (which I’m proud to say I understood about 90% of. Thank you, Senora Liston!), but there are really good footnotes, so you won’t be lost if you don’t know Spanish.
I loved the characters in this story. They are multi-dimensional and they wrestle – even the bad ones. Sometimes Carlos (the boyfriend’s) internal speech comes across as a little off, but then…well, he’s drunk most of the time, so that actually makes sense.
There is some mature content – mostly related to alcohol and abuse, but it’s not described in a way to feel like “tragedy porn.”
I am really excited for the sequel. And I’m really excited for what could happen to the American Church if we fell in love with Ana and a sweet little futbol player Emanuel.
Finding Amor is on Tour with Celebrate Lit!
About the Book
Title: Finding Amor
Author: Allison K. Garcia
Genre: Latino Christian Fiction
Release date: September 8, 2018
In a world filled with hate, how can you know what love is?
Escaping a violent and abusive environment, eight-year-old Emanuel Martinez attempts to cross through three countries to be with his mother, Ana, whom he hasn’t seen since he was a baby. When la migra catches him at the border and he’s thrown into an immigration center, his dreams for being a real family start to disappear.
Vowing never to be like her own mother who abandoned her and never looked back, Ana has worked for six years to get her son to the United States, Now Ana has to rely on her distant mother and her alcoholic boyfriend, Carlos, to finally get her son to her side so they can build a life together.
When Lauren Barrett agrees to help with the afterschool program, she soon realizes she’s bitten off more than she can chew. Growing up in an unsupportive home has made her insecure and vulnerable, plus suffering through years of infertility hasn’t helped matters. Yet she longs to do something meaningful with her life and wonders when that opportunity will come along. When a special young boy named Emanuel enters her life, he turns her worldview on its head.
As their lives intersect, will they help each other understand what family and love and home really mean?
Click here to purchase your copy.
About the Author
Allison K. Garcia is a Licensed Professional Counselor, but she has wanted to be a writer ever since she could hold a pencil. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Shenandoah Valley Writers, Virginia Writers Club, and is Municipal Liaison for Shenandoah Valley NaNoWriMo.
Allison’s short story, “At Heart,” was published in the Winter 2013 edition of From the Depths literary magazine, along with her flash fiction. Her work, “You Shall Receive,” was published in GrayHaven Comics’s 2014 All Women’s anthology. Winning an honorary mention in the ACFW Virginia 2015 short story contest, “Just Another Navidad” was published in A bit of Christmas. Allison’s book, Vivir el Dream, published May 2017, has won several prestigious awards: 2016 ACFW Genesis Contest Finalist, 2018 Eric J. Hoffer Montaigne Medal Finalist, Honorary Mention in the 2018 Eric. J. Hoffer Awards E-book category, and 2018 IAN Book of the Year Awards Finalist in the Christian/Relgious Fiction category. Her highly-anticipated novel, Finding Amor, was released in September 2018.
Latina at heart, Allison has been featured in local newspapers for her connections in the Latino community in Harrisonburg, Virginia. A member of cultural competency committees for work and a participant in several pro-immigrant rallies and other events in her region, she also sings on the worship team and enjoys get-togethers with the hermanos in her church. With the help of her husband, Julio, and their son, Miguel, she has been able to nurture her love for the Latino people.
Guest Post from Allison
It’s All About Love: Loving God and Loving Your Neighbor
Finding Amor is the first part of a larger series, Buscando Home, about a family from El Salvador broken through decades of war, violence, and distance. Finding Amor is the first glimpse into their world – why they are broken, some of what they’ve gone through, and how far they have to go in order to heal and find peace and home together. Finding Amor is about finding the love of family, God, and within ourselves. It also calls people to loving both God and their neighbors, the two main tenants of Christianity.
Since 2012, God has been calling me to write Latino Christian fiction. He led me to write my multi-awarding winning debut novel, Vivir el Dream, in 2012 and then in 2014, He led me to write Finding Amor.
Finding Amor was prompted by a couple things in 2014. I was watching the news and saw a video of little kids on a bus near an immigration detention center. Outside the bus angry Americans were protesting, yelling at them and carrying signs. It broke my heart. I thought about how scary it must be for those small children to be surrounded by an angry mob after what was surely a traumatic border crossing. And I began to think how most likely some of those people yelling angrily at the children were also proclaiming to be Christians (as I had heard echoed sentiments in our community). I wanted to change the narrative. This is the first scene of my book. I wanted to give an insider perspective on how scary this is to experience as a child. The other thing that inspired my book was a true story from my church about how a little boy in the afterschool program came to Christ and subsequently brought many of the other little kids to salvation as well. That touched my heart, and from there my main character, Emanuel, was born.
Why Latino Christian Fiction?
My main goals for writing Latino Christian fiction are to have Latinos represented in Christian fiction, share God’s word, and show authentic stories of undocumented immigrants so that people can open their hearts and minds and grow in compassion and love and understanding. In showing real stories and explaining the whys and showing the human side to immigration, my hope is that people who have negative views towards immigrants will understand more and realize that we are called to love our neighbors, no matter what their documentation status or skin color or language, etc. I purposefully put a very diverse group of people in the book, because it represents America and also in Revelations is shows Heaven as a place where “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” people are praising God. Also there are important verses that remind us that we cannot love God if we do not love our neighbor. We cannot love God without loving our neighbor anymore than we can love our neighbor without loving God. This is another theme that is represented in Lauren’s story. Seeing her neighbors in a new light and seeing the love they show her, helps her grow to love others and herself more. So, for me, the trauma and drama and debates in the U.S. boil down to a lack of love.
My hope as a writer is that Finding Amor reminds them that everyone has a story. We often judge a book by its cover and as Christians, that’s not okay. We are called to love everyone, unconditionally. I hope that sticks with them.
Real World Bible Study, February 2
Through the Fire Blogs, February 3
Mary Hake, February 3
100 Pages per Hour, February 4
Carla Loves To Read, February 5
Inklings and notions, February 5
A Diva’s Heart, February 6
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 6
Stephanie’s Life of Determination, February 7
Bigreadersite, February 7
Multifarious, February 8
Margaret Kazmierczak, February 9
Bibliophile Reviews, February 10
Carpe Diem, February 11
Creating Romance, February 12
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, February 12
A Baker’s Perspective, February 13
Texas Book-aholic, February 14
Janices book reviews, February 15