Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Ever get an invitation to a wedding, where you so wanted to attend, but then realized that the invite was really addressed to the previous owners of your home? Well, that happened to me. The invitation was beautiful, the way certain wedding invitations can be. The reception was to be held at some fancy country club in New York. I toyed with the idea . . . What if I showed up? I'd know no one, but hey, there would be free prime rib and lobster bisque.
Ever attend the wrong wedding? Nope? Me neither. But my character Samantha Bravencourt does. She gets an invitation saying Avery Jones is getting married. Only, it's not the Avery Jones she went to college with.
A Wedding Invitation, my fourth novel with Bethany House Publishers, was both fun and nostalgic to write. Fun, because I enjoy creating zany characters with names like Beanie and Little. Those are two of the boarders at Aunt Dovie's house in Winston-Salem, NC.
The nostalgic part of the creating came as I recalled my own days at a refugee camp where I taught in the 1980s. My novel is loosely based on my experience there. The camp was located in Bataan, Philippines and housed over 17,000 Indochinese refugees. I taught English to the children.
The Amerasians are who intrigued me. These half Vietnamese, half American (U.S.) were treated poorly and often given no education in Vietnam. I got to know many of these kids and included one in particular in A Wedding Invitation. Lien is purely fictitious, but she is a component of Amerasian girls I had as students. These kids wanted to belong and be accepted, only they didn’t usually achieve that goal well because they were often rude and loud. Perhaps that was the only way they’d get any attention.
Lien strives for this, showing us that we all have the need to be invited, accepted, and befriended. She learns that God invites us, too. In his eyes, we are each accepted, forgiven, and loved with an everlasting love.
What a great world it would be if we could reach over and beyond society's prejudices and accept those we live near and work with. When we do this, we open our hearts and lives to some priceless gems. That's eventually what Samantha realizes about Lien. Lien is funny, intelligent, insightful, and grateful. Of course, the time it takes for Sam to realize these characteristics about the Amerasian is lengthy. But the result is a friendship well worth the trip.