Review & Giveaway: Saints in Limbo by River Jordan

saints in limboSaints in Limbo by River Jordan (WaterBrook Press, May 5, 2009) 352 pages

Velma True lives on the outskirts of Echo, Florida. She’s all alone since her husband, Joe, died last year. She has a son, but he’s not around much. And her best friend is losing her mind to Alzheimer’s. But then a mysterious man shows up on her porch and gives her a rock.

Saints in Limbo is a celebration of a marriage. It’s at once a quiet novel and a wonder-inducing novel. This is definitely Southern, as well. It’s about hopes and dreams, regrets and fears.

As I was reading, I kept trying out different words and phrases to describe this book; I kept coming up empty. Everything I tried seemed to be not quite right. My best efforts were words like Wonder. Awe. Mystery (but not in the genre definition of the word). And then I tried to juxtapose that with slice-of-life, down-to-earth, realism. And then I read Biblio Brat’s post detailing genres she’s using to categorize her books. And, wonder of wonders, this combination apparently has a name: Magical Realism. Now, I personally like the definition much more than I like the label. But for those of you familiar with this genre, I hope this is helpful. Quoting J.C.:

Magical Realism: I found this definition applied to an art movement, but it fits so well for this: “characterized by depictions of everyday reality, but with the element of fantasy or wonder greatly accentuated”. Authors who write in this genre are Isabel Allende, Gabriel García Márquez, Cristina García, Franz Kafka, Nikolai Gogol — just to name a few.

Jordan has a compelling voice. The writing is lyrical (And yes, that’s blurbed on the cover, but it’s true.). In the Christian fiction world, this book the closest to literature I’ve read in a long time — maybe ever.

I definitely want to read the rest of Jordan’s fiction.

River Jordan is the author of several books, including The Messenger of Magnolia Street and The Gin Girl. Follow River Jordan on Twitter.

Other reviews:
Lisa at 5 Minutes for Books

Have you reviewed this book? Leave me a link and I’ll add it here.

To enter to win a brand new copy, leave a comment on this post telling me your experience with books that could be labeled as Magical Realism. Which books? Did you like them or not? Why or why not?

Once you’ve done that, extra entries can be earned in a couple ways:
• Subscribe to my RSS feed (current subscribers are eligible too, just let me know). Leave a separate comment. (1 entry)
• Tweet about this post on (I’m @Wordlily. Leave a separate comment with your Twitter user name and giving me a way to find the tweet. (1 entry)

This giveaway is open to the United States and Canada only. The giveaway will end June 7.

Edited to add: The giveaway is now closed, a winner has been chosen.

I received this book from the publisher. I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.


22 responses to “Review & Giveaway: Saints in Limbo by River Jordan

  1. Hi there,

    Thank you so much for not only reading Saints In Limbo but for loving Velma’s story. Also, thanks for helping me try to discover what genre that I am. I once had a reviewer tell me that he thought I had invented a new genre but that it would be very difficult that way to find a place to put it on a shelf in a bookstore. I know I just love these characters and I love a great story.

    And the word, wonder. That thrills me, it really does!


    River Jordan

  2. Your comment about Christian fiction makes me want to read this…I’m tired of poor writing being passed of as “Christian!”

    I must admit, I have no experience with Magical Realism, though I’ve heard of it and have wanted to try it, at least to say I’ve tried it.

  3. Hi WordLily,
    I already subscribe to your feed (with gratitude), and I really appreciate your recommendation of this book.

    Magical Realism is one of my favorite “forms” of writing. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez is one of my absolutely favorite books specifically because it shows the way that the magical infuses every day life. Sometimes magic isn’t as profound as in novels, but it’s still there – in the sunbeams and the spider webs.

    I would love to read Jordan’s work. Thanks again for the rec.

  4. Hey,
    I didn’t realize that I had won anything from the read-a-thon! Cool! How do I claim my prize?

  5. quiltingreader

    I don’t think I’ve read any but I’d love too.

  6. Fantastic review! I really want to read this book now, especially since it’s set in the South.

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  8. I haven’t read a book on magical realism but this book sounds interesting. Please count me in. Great review btw!

  9. Your review is wonderful — I don’t know that I’ve ever read a book that would be considered “magical realism” though I would like to give it a try as it sounds very good.

  10. I think that “Magical Realism” must be a relatively new term, and that not many readers have heard it applied to a genre. Having said that, like most of your other posters, I can’t think of something I’ve read that can be called Magical Realism. Thanks for the opportunity to read this new genre.

  11. I read about this book in World magazine and added it to my “maybe read some day” list. Because of your review it has moved to my “must read” list. Thanks for a lovely post.

  12. I don’t think I’ve read any books that would fall under this genre. After reading this review, I think I need to branch out. The beauty of blogging is that I’ve been exposed to so many books I might never have read otherwise.

  13. Belinda McNabb

    I do not think that I have read any magical realism and if I have I did not know that is what it was. I would love the opportunity to read this novel. Please include me in your giveaway

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  18. After seeing your post today I had to read your review here and I am adding this one to my list to look for. (Library sale coming up this next weekend – woo hoo!

    • Oh, enjoy the library sale! Hope you find some great stuff! And I hope you do read and review Saints in Limbo; I look forward to hearing what you think of it!

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