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Book review: The Search by Michele Huneven

Over the past few weeks, Maryanne and I have reviewed and recommended books that made us think more deeply about leadership, personal growth, holding engaging events and meetings, goal setting, and other topics we enjoyed learning about.

Today, I want to share with you a fiction book that touches on the topics of leadership, teamwork, and human relationships--The Search by Michelle Huneven. This book is a memoir written by Dana Potowski, a novelist and food writer, who reluctantly agrees to be a part of a pastoral search committee in her church.

Dana Potowski, the fictional writer of this novel, closely resembles Michelle Huneven’s own life story. Dana is a fiction writer, a well-known food writer, a member of a progressive Unitarian Church in California and a former seminary student. Huneven studied at a Methodist seminary before she quit to become a fiction writer and an acclaimed food writer. The two women could be one, Dana Potowski might as well be Huneven’s pseudonym, but Huneven never claims it to be so. She is so convincing in blurring the lines that as a reader, you will forget that this is a work of fiction, not a memoir of Dana’s experience as a member of a pastoral search committee.

Dana’s committee is comprised of people from all walks of life: different ages, occupations, races and most importantly--different convictions and ideas. Huneven describes the work of the search committed with great accuracy: from bonding together and creating their own small community, to their complicated relationships and difficult decision process. The committee members get to know each other by sharing food together, discussing, arguing, and compromising. They also deeply care for one another and the fate of their church.

If you have ever been on a team that had to make a big decision, especially in a faith community, you will be able to relate to the characters and their challenges very well. There is also a lot of love, humor, and humanity in this novel. You come to care for all the characters and their committee because Dana ends up caring for them all. Their final decision of whom to call as their new pastor is a masterclass in showcasing how conflicting expectations and desires come into play in decision-making and how compromise can how staying true to yourself and your own values.

You can find this book here:

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