The Grace Crasher
I recently read The Grace Crasher by Mara Faro in less than a day, and it rocketed to the top of my list of favorites for the year! See why you should get a copy of your own.
Armed with a floral-print Bible cover, Julia must pretend to be “born again” for her Christian housemates–cute EMT Mark and his church-lady mom. Their place is walking distance (cough, stalking distance) from Dylan, her latest musician crush.
Mark knows she’s faking her faith. But he needs someone like her to crash his dull routine. So he protects her secret and brings her to his Evangelical church. Hiding her Catholic past, she bumbles her way through hand-raising worship. Other times she sneaks into Mass. Meanwhile, Mark explains how to be “saved.” (Sure, she needs saving–from her alcoholic dad, her copier-jamming job, and Mark’s suspicious mom.) But does he just want to save her? Or date her?
Then Dylan sings her a song at open mic. Suddenly she’s torn between two guys, flubbing her way through three different churches, and completely confused about life. Will it all crash down around her, or will she crash straight into grace?
My 5-Star Review
This book’s premise held my interest from the start, but I didn’t expect it to rocket to the top of my all-time favorites.
From the spot-on humor that targets Catholics and Evangelical Christians alike to the fully-developed characters and the beauty of capital-T Truth that keeps the whole mess of them afloat, Julia (say it with three syllables, if you please), Mark, and Dylan sucked me into their world and wouldn’t let me go until I finished The Grace Crasher in under 24 hours.
A hilarious, poignant story that sets the broken love among families, friends, lovers, and fellow believers against the backdrop of God’s unfailing, patient, perfect love.
The Grace Crasher left me with a smile on my face and in my heart.
The Author Interview
The Grace Crasher deftly combines laugh-out-loud humor with serious issues regarding relationships and addictions. How do you maintain a balance that keeps the book from veering into something either superficial or maudlin?
I come from a family that combined funny and dysfunctional. When I was a teenager, my dad got arrested for drunk driving. (That’s not the funny part.) It was in the police blotter of the local paper, and some people mentioned it to me. To cover up my shame, I would chuckle and say, “Yes, I’m a member of the Faro crime family.” I actually don’t think that was one of my funnier lines, but people would quote that line back to me for many years afterwards.
By the way, Faro is not my real last name; I’m using a pen name so I can write fiction about these topics without self-censoring. And my dad did eventually get sober. Sadly, he didn’t live to see the publication of The Grace Crasher, because he got ill and died from another addiction, cigarettes. But while he was in the hospital a few days before his death, he asked how my book was going, and added, “Whatever you do, don’t censor yourself.” I still remember his voice, hoarse from lung cancer, saying that.
He also said, “You better put me in your novel. And I don’t care if my character’s a jerk in the book—as long as I’m in it!” Well, he’s definitely in it. Not as an actual character, because Julia’s dad is much worse than mine ever was. But my dad’s sense of humor is definitely in it.
The novel pokes fun at both Catholic and Evangelicals. Would you share how your own journey has enabled you to see the Christian faith from the inside?
I’ve spent time in both Catholic and Evangelical worlds. I was raised Catholic and received all the sacraments, but we weren’t consistent in our faith. However, my mom gave me a good foundation about who Jesus was and the Trinity. This was in the 70s and early 80s, during the Felt Banner Years.
Although I liked going to Mass, and felt like there was something holy there, I was confused, especially by the Eucharist. Gradually, after my brother and I got confirmed, my family’s irregular Mass attendance drifted down to none.
Then, when I was in my early 30s, I had an emotional crisis that led me to turn my life over to Jesus. I had Evangelical friends who were so incredibly kind and great examples of Christians walking the walk. When they invited me to their contemporary mega-church with a talented band playing “God of Wonders” and an active, friendly singles group, I was hooked.
But I also felt like a stranger in a strange land. I did a fictional composite of some of my more unusual experiences in The Grace Crasher. For example, when Julia goes to the contemporary Evangelical church (“elements” with a lowercase e) and they have interactive exhibits including the “sin shredder” paper shredder, that was similar to some of my experiences.
I considered myself an Evangelical Christian for about seven years, met my wonderful husband in an Evangelical church, and got married in one. Long story short, I eventually reverted back to the Catholic Church and he converted. But I do have an insider view of both Catholic and Evangelical churches. I hope and pray that the kindness and faith of most Evangelicals came through in the novel.
Julia and Mark are remarkably well-developed characters. They both have their flaws and yet both are lovable and admirable. What or who inspired them?
Thank you! Well, Julia is largely inspired by what I was like when I was single and looking for “love.” I was never quite as gutsy (or is the word, stalkerish?) as her. For example, I never would have moved to a crush’s town just to “accidentally” run into him, like she chased Dylan. But I certainly wasn’t above doing things like going to coffee shops to flirt with cute baristas while placing my order—and I don’t even like coffee.
For years, I had a consistent pattern of crushing on emotionally unavailable men who would flirt with me, give me their number, and then never call me back. Meanwhile, I would turn down perfectly nice guys who did call me and ask me out. And speaking of nice guys…
Mark was inspired by several guys I knew in my Evangelical church singles group, including my husband but not restricted to him. I’m talking about the kind of nice, Godly men who volunteer to drive the 10-seater church van on singles trips. And they do this even though it’s actually a really dangerous van with a door that keeps falling off, and they have to attend a special driving class just to get insurance approval to drive said van. He was also loosely inspired by people I’ve known who felt like they had to be a strong emotional support to a parent after the other parent died or was absent for some other reason.
About the Author
Mara Faro worked as an advertising copywriter and proofreader before becoming an author. The Grace Crasher was inspired by her years of dating confusion and spiritual seeking. A member of the Catholic Writers Guild, she is now happily married and writing a new novel.
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