Between Lions and Lambs
Disclaimer: This book may not be to the taste of some Christian readers, especially those who are sensitive to coarse language or sordid scenes. It is not graphic, nor is it sensationalized.
N. T. McQueen's Between Lions and Lambs is a story of a spiritual journey of a man — or, more accurately, of two men. The narrative jumps back and forth in time, one chapter relating a past event and the next one the present day. It follows the life story of the evangelist Ezekiel Clemens, mostly as seen through the eyes of his personal assistant and publicist, Gerry Lambough. Gerry's own story is intertwined with Ezekiel's at a very early stage. While the story seems to be mostly focused on Clemens, Gerry's journey is at least as interesting as the older man's, if not more so. Gerry's is the story of a young man who has to deal with a faith placed in a very flawed hero, and it tells how that faith in the man shapes his faith in God, for better or worse, well into middle age. It's a compelling story that resonates with the experiences of many Christians across the world.
Clemens is something of a caricature of the best and worst of the "celebrity evangelist." His family history is likewise a bit stereotypical. Perhaps that is part of why it is his publicist's story that seems, at least to me, more accessible and closer to my own experiences of faith, doubt, and the regions that lie between the two.
The pacing of the narrative is well managed, making the reader want to carry on and find out what happens next. The dialogue, generally speaking, captures the cadence of the spoken word quite well. In the early chapters relating the sermons of Clemens, it is spot-on for a familiar image of the televangelist.
Before commenting on the one big complaint I had while reading Between Lions and Lambs, I should point out that I was reading the ebook version. I have spoken to a reader of the print edition and found out that the problem is mostly addressed there. So, readers might want to keep that in mind when deciding which version to purchase. The complaint is in connection with the sloppy editing job. The story is very readable, but the errors in syntax, grammar, and even spelling are as glaring as they are numerous. The ebook version seems like a copy of an early draft that has not yet seen the red ink of a good editor. With the application of a skilled editor's sharp eye, though, the book could clearly be transformed into a very good read — and I understand that this is what has happened in the print edition.
Reviewed by Shelly Bryant © 2012