I just finished another book, Lisa Samson's Quaker Summer (Women of Faith Fiction) (2007 Novel of the Year). As you note in the link, it is an award-winning book,and yes, I think it deserves the award. I'm sure it was reviewed by plenty of bloggers and Amazon has 32 reviews up if a review is what you want to read.
Reading Quaker Summer (Women of Faith Fiction) (2007 Novel of the Year) made me think a little bit about why I read Christian fiction and what I think makes a good Christian novel, something I could whole-heartedly recommend to others. The term "Christian fiction" covers a waterfront of books in a variety of fictional genres, all of which are supposed to share at least a Christian worldview. Some books have plot lines which have little to do with religion, but then bring in religion through church attendance or through a character who has to find God before they can live happily ever after--but the religious experience is almost tacked on to the story rather than integral to it. I'm not real crazy about that type of book. Others are more along the lines of a clean romance--God or church may get a short mention but the character's religious experiences don't get many pages and really aren't integral to the story. I enjoy those books.
What I like best in Christian fiction is when the book really is about a character's faith journey and I find that Lisa Samson writes those stories as well as anyone. The main character of Quaker Summer (Women of Faith Fiction) (2007 Novel of the Year) is an upper middle class doctor's wife. She is the mother of one son who attends a private school where she has been a regular volunteer. Her hobby is shopping, and she spends a lot of time and money doing it. She is starting to wonder if that's all there is to life when she and her husband get lost and end up at a shelter in a bad neighborhood. The shelter is run by an old nun. Heather starts volunteering there. She also meets a couple of 90ish Quaker women that summer. She is living with guilt from the past and is feeling a call from God to radically change the way she and her family live. I wonder how much of the book is autobiographical because Lisa Samson and her husband moved to their present home to be part of an intentional Christian community and simplify their lifestyle.
As a person who often struggles with what my faith means to me and how it should affect my life, I like reading about characters who don't have all the answers, who try to do God's will, but also have to face the fact that God is spelled G-o-d, not M-e. (personally I often prefer the "m-e" spelling).
The few bad reviews on Amazon call the story contrived and unrealistic, and I think I'd have to agree to a point. Heather travels from Baltimore to both Minnesota and Texas seeking absolution from a childhood sin; something that few people would be able to do financially and something I think few professionals or confessors would recommend. Her relationship with her son doesn't seem realistic either. Still, I did like the book and if you like stories of people's faith journeys, I think you'll like this one.