Mac's Backs will host a booksigning with Mary O'Connor, author of Free Rose Light, on Saturday, September 25th from 2-4 pm at the B-Side (patio if the weather is good!) 2785 Eucild Heights Blvd. in Cleveland Heights.
Free Rose Light:
Wait … a Manhattan architect who describes herself as “a lapsed Catholic lesbian” writing a book about a white evangelical pastor who moved his family into the heart of an impoverished neighborhood in Akron, Ohio, to share his passion for “God’s grace”? What kind of equation is that?
It is, improbably, an equation for literary alchemy.
Mary O’Connor claims to be a first-time author. I’m finding that difficult to believe, because much of the writing in Free Rose Light is beautiful. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I backed up and reread a paragraph, not for greater comprehension but merely to revel in the selection, order and pacing of the words.
A troubled O’Connor went in search of herself and found the answers in Akron, mainly by immersing herself in the life of Duane Crabbs, a former firefighter who felt a calling to move his middle-class family into a crime-and-drug infested neighborhood on the eastern edge of Summit Lake. This is not, however, just a compelling story about Crabbs and his initially reluctant wife, Lisa, and their South Street Ministries, or even about poverty and race. It is about all of that, but it is foremost a naked journey into the heart of a unique 58-block area of Akron, past and present, an Akron that O’Connor put under a non-blinking microscope to reveal the inner lives of its occupants, in the process reminding us of universal truths.
—Bob Dyer, retired columnist, Akron Beacon Journal
Mary O’Connor came to Akron not intending to stay, she tells us in the opening pages of Free Rose Light. But the landscape and the people and the stories of South Akron and its unlikely evangelists, Duane and Lisa Crabbs, changed her heart. Echoing one of Duane’s favorite Scripture quotes – “Seek the welfare of the city” – these closely observed, poetically tuned essays remind us why all places and all people are worthy of salvation.
—David Giffels, author of Barnstorming Ohio: To Understand America and The Hard Way on Purpose
Mary O’Connor is an architect who specialized in public assembly spaces in her twenty-five-year practice in New York City. Prior to becoming an architect, she was an aquatic comedian and hostess at Manhattan Plaza Health Club. Her career came to an abrupt conclusion after a near drowning incident during an act that featured diving off the board in a full evening gown. She moves through the world via seven bicycles in four cities.