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Club Sandwich    by Lisa Samson order for
Club Sandwich
by Lisa Samson
Order:  USA  Can
WaterBrook Press, 2005 (2005)
* * *   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

At thirty-eight, Ivy Schneider is stuck in a rut she didn't choose. She can't find time to finish her novel, though her column in the local newspaper is well-received. Ivy's husband is mostly absent, traveling with a gospel barbershop quartet. He's basically clueless, never responding to her cries for help.

Caring for their three children (including a teenage daughter and toddler terror) on her own wouldn't be so bad, but Ivy is also part-owner of her family restaurant, which takes time. Throw in a sister with marriage troubles, a brother with a substance abuse problem, and a mother slowly succumbing to dementia, and Ivy doesn't know how much more she can handle. She's a member of the sandwich generation - caught between raising children and caring for aging parents. When friends start a group called Club Sandwich, Ivy is one of the first members. Though she was never much of a joiner, this support group provides exactly what she needs as family issues, temptation from an old high school flame, and job turmoil threaten to send Ivy over the edge.

This novel hit so close to home that there were times I had to put the book down. The raw emotion as Ivy tries to find God's hand in the midst of her trials is extremely true-to-life. When Ivy cries, 'Help me, God. Help me. Help me. Help me,' tears streamed down my face. Lisa Samson has a way with words that gets to the heart of her characters. I didn't really connect with any of the other members of Club Sandwich, since the first-person narrative allows the reader to get a deep understanding of the main character, yet not much of anyone else. For some reason, though, this isn't a huge problem. The intimacy developed with Ivy overshadows the need to know what everyone else is thinking.

The faith element of the book is handled in a straightforward and realistic way. Marriage issues are not sugarcoated. Ivy struggles with real temptation. The problem of ailing and aging parents is one that more and more people are dealing with each year. I know I totally identified with this subject, as will most women over thirty. Club Sandwich will help readers realize that no one woman can be perfect at handling everything, and that's a message we all need to hear.

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