Thanks to everyone who has supported Neighbor and for all the great feedback so far. During the free promotion I will do one of my favorite things now, talking about it by answering your questions. As always you can leave questions here or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will get to as many as I can.
Question 1: (Small Spoiler) You start the book saying she has less faith in God, but you end the book, still in present tense, saying her faith is growing, is this a mistake?
No, not a mistake in this case but it does go beyond just making a gripping opening. Let’s look at the first couple of sentences.
“My name is Jillian and I used to believe in God. Well, that statement is slightly misleading, I suppose. I used to have more FAITH in God, would be more accurate. I still believe in God, I just don’t believe he’s bothering too much with me. Not that I’m worried about it as I’m not his biggest fan right now either.”
So the VERY first line, saying she doesn’t believe in God is the initial knee-jerk reaction she would have had during pretty much the entire story. Remember this is basically her testimony. As she sits down to write and she thinks about all she is going to write, especially this first part describing what happened to her daughter, those feelings easily come flooding back despite the fact that she has grown closer to God at the end (when she would likely be writing it.)
It’s akin to listening to a song that was playing when someone broke up with you. It was such a powerful feeling at the time you can recall it easily. I use it to grab attention but since this story was so close to me she (and I) also use it describe the time of agnostic feelings she went through because of all of the negativity in her life.
As for the rest of it, I play on a bit of duality of the statements. During most of the story it’s obvious why she would have had more faith but remember her faith starts to wane at a relatively early age and, as most people speak of, it’s easier to have lots of faith growing up than it is when you become an adult and life starts getting in the way. By the end she has lots of faith but she is still struggling. She has found her faith but it is still an ebb and flow and she admits and realizes that.
It’s really part of what makes the story so powerful. Instead of this big happy ending we just catch her at the start of the rest of her journey. She realizes God is there for her but is still struggling to accept it, to understand what He wants her to do, or even show the proper thanks to Him. This is nothing less than what a lot of us already struggle with so I think that is why it hits so close to home for so many people.