Mary Hamilton is the author of the Rustic Knoll Bible Camp series, including the first two books, Hear No Evil and Speak No Evil. Though written for tweens, her books are finding an audience with adults as well, especially those who went to camp as kids. Mary lived at a camp in WI for her first 20 years, and she brings the experience alive in her writing, from the pranks to the smoke of the campfire. While raising her own three children, Mary was active in her church’s youth ministry, hosting small group Bible studies and pancake suppers in her home. She even served as a camp counselor one summer, and decided once was enough. When not writing, Mary enjoys knitting, reading and being outdoors where she can enjoy nature. She and her husband live in TX with a rescued Golden Retriever.
The Basic Unit of Society
by Mary Hamilton
In the small Midwest hometown of my childhood, most of the houses had one large picture window that faced the street. Each morning, the curtains were pulled back to let the sunshine in. Then as it grew dark in the evening, the curtains would be drawn for privacy. Every so often, while driving by, you could catch a glimpse of what was going on inside. You might see the shifting glow of a television, or a fleeting view of people engaged in conversation or some other activity. I liked to pretend I was inside the house and imagine what was going on among the residents.
Sometimes, while driving down a street, I still look at houses and wonder what’s going on inside. But my idealistic childhood imaginings have taken on a darker tone. Nowadays, having witnessed friends’ marriages breaking apart and families torn to pieces, I often wonder if what’s happening inside those homes is happy or sad, healthy or destructive. I often pray for the children growing up within those walls, that they’ll enter adulthood without the scars of divorce, abuse or neglect.
Families, I believe, were designed by God as the basic unit of society. The family was meant to be the place where we learn to love and to forgive, to share and to respect someone else’s property, to accept others for who they are. I believe most if not all of what’s wrong with society today can be traced back to the breakdown of strong families in our country.
Is it any wonder, then, that family has emerged as a theme in my books. When I first decided to write a novel, I knew I wanted a setting like the camp where I grew up. I wanted to write for adults, but a story set at a youth camp needs to be about and for youth. At the time, my own kids were in junior high and high school, and I grieved for their friends who struggled with divorce and all its effects. I wanted to bring each child into our home to shield them from the pain and to heal their hurts.
Their circumstances provided the story question for my Rustic Knoll Bible Camp series. What if kids came to summer camp with their “baggage” from home, but at camp they gain a different perspective, a Godly way of looking at their problems, and they learn new approaches to dealing with those problems? With every book I write, I pray that God will use this story to bring hope and healing to someone experiencing similar circumstances. And most of all, I pray my stories will draw readers closer to the God whose love for them is higher than the heavens, deeper than the oceans and wider than the east is from the west.
Having his younger sister at camp was a pain, but Taylor Dixon never expected the pain to go so deep.
At 15, Taylor dreams of getting his driver’s license and driving racecars when he’s older. Only his younger sister, Marissa, believes in his dreams, but her adventurous spirit keeps landing him in trouble. Dad won’t let Taylor get his license unless he stays out of trouble, and predicts he’s heading for the same jail cell as his once-favored older brother.
Taylor returns to Rustic Knoll Bible Camp, expecting softball, swimming and sermons. Then he discovers a classic Mustang in the camp’s machine shed, and the owner’s invitation to help restore it fuels his dream of driving race cars. But when Marissa falls for his snobbish cabin mate, the ensuing war of words and pranks escalates until it threatens to destroy both the car and his dreams for the future.
Will Taylor fulfill Dad’s prediction?
Or will the message of the old Mustang’s engine set him free from the prison he built himself?
I’ve read this book, as well as its predecessor, Hear No Evil. While geared toward our youth, I found them to be deep in a way that challenged my own spiritual walk. You can read my review of Speak No Evil here. My review of Hear No Evil is available here. I highly recommend both of these books.