Friday, September 3, 2010

Book Note: 'Listen' by Rene Gutteridge

Up front and personal: Rene is a partner on an upcoming book project. When I requested her book for review from the publisher, it was before we were connected. She was a popular author and her latest, "Listen" (Tyndale 2010), sounded pretty interesting, even to me, a really big "non fan" of "Christian" fiction, so I thought, "Why not."

I'm glad I stepped out of my reading comfort zone and am happy to provide some notes, rather than a review. This is a fun book (Rene's got a great sense of humor and one scene in particular, caused me to guffaw, something usually reserved for when I'm enjoying the latest Bill Bryson book). It's also not what I would typically think of when I think "Christian" fiction. There are some faith themes running throughout the story, but they aren't the focus. Instead, there's a really intriguing plot, well developed characters whom we care about and one of the best grab-you-and-make-you-want-to-turn-the-pages prologues I ever have read in any book of any kind,

The premise involves the effects on folks in a small town when their private conversations suddenly go public on a mysterious website. Imagine that you're in your home or some other private setting, talking about a neighbor or about the girls at school, or whether or not you think your boss is competent. Then that conversation is reprinted word for word (expect for any curse words you might have included) on a web site, almost as though an invisible transcriber were present in the room.

Needless to say, it unnerves everyone, and even leads to murder. Who's behind the website and what is his or her motive? Those are the questions that drive the story; the answers make it a fun and thought-provoking novel. Appropriately, discussion questions are included at the end of the book for use in a small group study.

You can purchase "Listen" here. Visit Rene's web site and learn more about her other works at
-- Lauren Yarger

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Lauren Yarger, Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

In 2008 she was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater with a Christian perspective for Reflections in the Light ( and is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection. She also is a contributing editor for

She also reviews books for Publisher's Weekly and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. She formerly was Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp, a national theater web site bsed in New York and a reviewer for American Theater Web.

She also served as Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. and worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford and the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.

She is a freelance writer and member of the Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association, The League of Professional Theatre Women and The CT Critics Circle.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger lives with her husband in West Granby, CT and has two adult children.

Copyright Notice

All contents copyright © Lauren Yarger 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, contact

Scripture from THE MESSAGE Copyright 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

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