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About Joy Jordan-Lake
Joy Jordan-Lake's varied--and admittedly odd--professional experience has included working as a college professor, author, journalist, waitress, director of a program for homeless families, university chaplain, horseback riding instructor, free lance photographer, and --the job title that remains her personal favorite--head sailing instructor.
Born in Washington, D.C., Joy Jordan-Lake's first vivid childhood memory was watching her mother weep in front of the television, where newscasters were just reporting the shooting of Martin Luther King, Jr. Later moving south with her family, she grew up on Signal Mountain, Tennessee, just outside Chattanooga, where she learned to observe the ways in which communities respond with courage to bigotry and violence--or fail to do so.
After earning a bachelors degree from Furman University and a masters from a theological seminary, Joy re-located to the Boston, Massachusetts, area where she earned a masters and a Ph.D. in English Literature from Tufts University, and specialized in the role of race in 19-century American fiction.
While in New England, she founded a food pantry targeting low-income and homeless families, served on the staff of a multi-ethnic church in Cambridge, worked as a free-lance journalist, and became a Baptist chaplain at Harvard. Her first book, Grit and Grace: Portraits of a Woman's Life (Harold Shaw Publishers, 1997), was a collection of stories, poems and essays which The Chicago Tribune described this way: "Written with much heart and wit, this little gem of a book touches on the ordinary and profound experiences that make up a woman's life . . . a poignant and satisfying collection . . . funny and sad, inspiring and awfully surprising."
Joy's second book, Whitewashing Uncle Tom's Cabin: Nineteenth-Century Women Novelists Respond to Stowe (Vanderbilt University Press, 2005) continued her doctoral dissertation work, exploring the inter-weavings of literature, theology, and race in American culture.
During this period, life for Joy and her husband, Todd Lake, was becoming increasingly chaotic with two careers, numerous re-locations for Todd's work, two young biological children and the adoption of a baby girl from China. Joy's nearly-manic need to ask everyone around her about how they managed--or not--to balance kids and career led to her third book, Working Families: Navigating the Demands and Delights of Marriage, Parenting and Career (WaterBrook/ Random House, 2007). Publishers Weekly called the book, "refreshing for its social conscience," and written with "sharp humor and snappy prose."
In its review of Joy's fourth book, Why Jesus Makes Me Nervous: Ten Alarming Words of Faith (Paraclete Press, 2007), Publishers Weekly again praised the author: "A professor at Belmont University and a former Baptist chaplain at Harvard University , the author mines her personal history...to illumine and interpret ideas such as...hope. Sometimes wry, occasionally stern, Jordan-Lake, with a touch of Southern gothic sensibility...has a gift for welcoming, lucid and insightful prose...."
Joy's first novel, Blue Hole Back Home, published in 2008 and inspired by actual events from her own teenage years, explores the tensions and eventual violence that erupt in a small, all-white Appalachian town when a Sri Lankan family moves in. Ultimately, Blue Hole Back Home, which bestselling author Leif Enger called "beautifully crafted," is a story not only of the devastating effects of racial hatred and cowardice, but more centrally, a celebration of courage, confrontation and healing. Used in a variety of classroom and book club settings, Blue Hole Back Home was chosen in 2009 as Baylor University's Common Book, and as the Common Book at Amarillo College in 2014.
Joy's latest novel, to be released in fall of 2017, is A Tangled Mercy. Told in alternating tales at once haunting and redemptive, A Tangled Mercy is a quintessentially American epic rooted in heartbreaking true events examining the harrowing depths of human brutality and betrayal, and our enduring hope for freedom and forgiveness.
Having taught at universities in Massachusetts, North Carolina and Texas, Joy teaches from time to time as an adjunct professor at Belmont University in Tennessee. Residing just south of Nashville, she and her husband share life with their three fabulous children, as well as the family's sweet, needy Golden Retriever.
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A haunting and redemptive novel inspired by the heartbreaking true events that occurred at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, A Tangled Mercy examines the horrifying depths of human brutality and our enduring hope for forgiveness.
After the sudden death of her troubled mother, struggling Harvard grad student Kate Drayton walks out on her lecture—and her entire New England life. Haunted by unanswered questions and her own uncertain future, she flees to Charleston, South Carolina, the place where her parents met, convinced it holds the key to understanding her fractured family and saving her career in academia. Kate is determined to unearth groundbreaking information on a failed 1822 slave revolt—the subject of her mother’s own research.
Nearly two centuries earlier, Tom Russell, a gifted blacksmith and slave, grappled with a terrible choice: arm the uprising spearheaded by members of the fiercely independent African Methodist Episcopal Church or keep his own neck out of the noose and protect the woman he loves.
Kate’s attempts to discover what drove her mother’s dangerous obsession with Charleston’s tumultuous history are derailed by a horrific massacre in the very same landmark church. In the unimaginable aftermath, Kate discovers a family she never knew existed as the city unites with a powerful message of hope and forgiveness for the world.
“Crawdads meets the Crawleys…Threaded through with a meticulously researched, well-crafted mystery, this is historical fiction at its best.” —Fiona Davis, nationally bestselling author of The Lions of Fifth Avenue
From the bestselling author of A Tangled Mercy comes an enthralling novel of secrets, a tumultuous war of ideas, and murder as classes collide in the shadow of Biltmore House.
Biltmore House, a palatial mansion being built by the Vanderbilts, American “royalty,” is in its final stages of construction in North Carolina. The country’s grandest example of privilege, it symbolizes the aspirations of its owner and the dreams of a girl, just as driven, who lives in its shadow.
Kerry MacGregor’s future is derailed when, after two years in college in New York City, family obligations call her home to the beautiful Appalachians. She is determined to distance herself from the opulence she sees rising in the Blue Ridge Mountains, however close its reach. Her family’s land is among the last pieces required to complete the Biltmore Estate. But something more powerful than an ambitious Vanderbilt heir could change Kerry’s fate as, one by one, more outsiders descend on the changing landscape—a fugitive from Sicily, a reporter chasing a groundbreaking story, a debutante tainted by scandal, and a conservationist prepared to put anyone at risk to stoke the resentment of the locals.
As Kerry finds herself caught in a war between wealth and poverty, innocence and corruption, she must navigate not only her own pride and desperation to survive but also the temptations of fortune and the men who control it.
Shelby Lenoir Maynard, nicknamed Turtle, has never much trusted girls her own age, spending her days instead with her brother and his pack of friends. But when a mysterious Sri Lankan girl of Moorish descent moves to town in the summer of 1979, Turtle invites her to their secret haven: the Blue Hole. Turtle could not have imagined how much that simple gesture would affect the rest of her life, or the lives of those she loved.
As tensions rise, it becomes clear there are those in Pisgah Ridge who reject the presence of anyone different--and those who would welcome the new refugee family. In just one summer--in a collision of love, hate, jealousy, beauty and a muddy swimming hole--everything changes.
“How MUCH is the crazy-much love?” This simple question is answered as two parents recount the journey of adopting their daughter and the many milestone moments that follow. From the child’s first bath and first time riding a tricycle, all the way to her boarding that big yellow bus, the crazy-much love grows SO MUCH that it spills out the windows and busts down the doors. A warm, lyrical celebration of the deep love parents hold for their children, and a comforting message for kids about how there can be only one special YOU.
Nice as it would be to frame Jesus as fun-loving, or a mercy-dispensing friend, the stories we have about him are a lot more disturbing than that.
We hear about celebrations that began as a wake, and about people who didn't use their talents well being bounced clear out of the club. Jesus clearly thought that following the way of truth involved a lot more than simply avoiding things like murder, stealing, committing adultery or telling lies.
When Jesus truly makes you nervous, he is worth living and dying for, and becomes the greatest source of meaning and purpose in life imaginable.
"Holiness. Abundance. Forgiveness. Hope. In these musings about ‘ten stained-glass words of faith,' Joy Jordan-Lake strips away the clichés and church-bulletin nostrums and exposes the honest, challenging, comforting, and yes, sometimes alarming claims that are at the center of Jesus' life and teaching. This book is downright restorative."
--Lauren F. Winner, author of Girl Meets God and Mudhouse Sabbath
Working Families shows you how.
Joy Jordan-Lake, a woman passionate about her kids and career, gives you examples from the lives of real people, some famous and some you’ll meet for the first time in these pages. Drawing upon her background as a college professor, writer, mom, and wife, she helps couples and families navigate life together for joy and purpose. Along the way, the insight, gentle humor, creative ideas, and encouragement of Working Families will help you sail through oceans of demands with confidence because you can change the world–and not in spite of your children but because of them.
Includes discussion guide for individuals or groups.