Search (2022)

by Michelle Huneven

Michelle Hunevenís Search is a novel disguised as the memoir of a Southern California writer named Dana. When Danaís Unitarian Universalist church launches a yearlong search for a new minister, Dana decides that a behind-the-scenes look at the workings of the search committee, of which she is a member, is just the topic for her next book.

Anyone whoís served on a decision-making committee will recognize the group dynamics ó the differences in outlook and commitment, squabbles, tensions, frustration, exasperation, and grudging compromises the book describes in minute detail. Although this is a religious congregationís search, the story will not turn off the nonreligious. The disagreements arenít usually about theology, and Unitarians are nondogmatic. The main fault line is between the old guard and the young faction that wants more social activism in its leader. Was the winning sideís candidate the right choice? The answer seems clear as the memoir continues into the new ministerís tenure.

What the search committee ate and drank at their meetings figures prominently in the narrative, and recipes are included at the end of the book. Hunevenís novel is backed by personal experience. Like her protagonist, she is a former seminarian, food writer, restaurant reviewer, and Unitarian Universalist.


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