Lucinda and Her Books
I’ve featured Mennonite author Lucinda J. on my blog a few years ago. When her first book came out in 2017, the memoir Anything but Simple, her name was Lucinda J. Miller. You can read that post here.
A few years ago, she married Ivan and changed her last name to Kinsinger. Now the couple has a baby daughter Annalise, both photos below posted on her blog.
Lucinda not only has a new baby daughter, but she has birthed a book baby as well.
This year Luci has published a new book, Turtle Heart (2021), which highlights a 2-year relationship with a feisty Ojibwe woman, Charlene Brand. The relationship takes center stage in the book, but she also reflects on her close-knit Mennonite family, her job as a nursing assistant, and her introduction to higher education in a secular setting. Her experience in a creative writing class is reminiscent of my own in a Temple University classroom where I observed “the curve of ash from a student’s Lucky Strike burn a spark hole onto a page of her text book.”
What happens when a sheltered, young Mennonite befriends an ornery, old Ojibwe woman in order to lead her to Christ—and finds that old woman has more to teach her about God and humanity than she ever dreamed?
These two women from widely differing cultures and belief systems soon build a connection that runs deeper than their differences. Kinsinger’s memoir of friendship reads like a novel, at once riveting and introspective, timeless and surprising.
In plain terms, Turtle Heart is the story of two needy souls, one desiring to rescue, the other hoping to be rescued. Lucinda Kinsinger’s second memoir subtitled Unlikely Friends with a Life-Changing Bond traces the relationship between these two souls, “one desperate for love, the other hungry to give it.”
Young Luci, a conservative Mennonite of European descent, is drawn to the enigma of Charlene Brand, a feisty, older woman with Ojibwe blood. Luci approaches Charlene with evangelistic zeal, intending to save her soul from eternal damnation. Mennonite and Ojibwe cultures never collide with a bang, Luci’s natural shyness forbidding that, but they do alternately attract and repel like magnets.
The author has an uncanny ability to discern her own and Charlene’s interior thoughts and motivations, parsing her own and her friend’s behavior with dynamic dialogue, stopping short of sounding cloying. Whether they are in Charlene’s mint-green shuttered house saturated with stale smoke, at Luci’s farm home, or in a hospital room, we sense their growing bond. The friendship grows by fits and starts though, Charlene challenging Luci’s staunch, biblical beliefs and exposing her naiveté and penchant for people pleasing. Luci strains for an honest friendship as she discovers Char’s turtle heart, hard-shelled on the outside, tender within.
As the narrative unfolds, we learn that the writer longs to become an author, taking creative writing courses as she works as a nursing assistant at a local hospital. We feel the tension as Charlene’s needs impinge on Luci’s time and energy. How ironic that a woman who interrupts the author’s desire to pursue her writing career has handed her a cross-cultural and inter-generational story—in fact, an entire book published almost a decade later.
Readers who enjoy vivid imagery will appreciate lines like “The sky is the washed-out color of winter as though the blue has been run through the washer too many times, and the dye has leaked out.” I suspect that the author kept a journal for the years 2011-2012 because the characters and incidents are portrayed with descriptive detail.
This book has appeal for a conservative Mennonite audience in particular, and to others who appreciate an eyewitness account of an evolving, unique friendship.
Connect with Luci
Yes, you can receive an autographed copy of Luci’s new book. Here’s how:
- Comment on this post now or any time during the next week.
- The giveaway will close in one week on Tuesday, October 26 at 12:00 midnight, EST.
- Only comments posted on this blog will count as an entry. I will announce the winner here and by email.