Cover Image: Search


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Member Reviews

This book was good! I enjoyed it and it kept me guessing throughout, which is difficult for most books to do. I felt like I connected with the characters and enjoyed the plot!
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A quirky cast of characters go on a search for a new pastor for their church. Sound like a snooze fest…. But it’s not! It’s sincere, charming, and so delightful!
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Humorous look at committee work. I was part of a Unitarian Universalist society for a few years and could easily match other members to the characters in the story. Which I think made it even funnier to me, if you can't laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?

Book is about a religious search committee looking for their next leader, but not at all didactic.
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I chose this book for my book club because it seemed like a very original topic. We all agreed that the topic was new but we were 50-50 on whether we actually enjoyed it or not.
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This is not a fast read. It is a book to read, think about, and then, possibly, to reread passages. It is an incredible effort, and I cannot fathom how the author researched and wrote it. With that being said, it is one of the best books I have read in a long time. There are deeply thought out characters, an interesting plot, a look into spiritual living outside the conventional church, and recipes.

This is not a book for everyone, but there is something to be learned for everyone. I felt like I was a part of the main character's search committee, and I developed my own strong feelings about the candidates.

If you are looking for a book with depth that still tells an interesting story, this is the book
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Search, by Michelle Huneven, is a lovely surprise of a book.  Clearly I requested an ARC from NetGalley so I was interested. What I didn't expect was to be so fully engaged in the process of searching for the new minister at Dana's UU church. 
Well written.  Engaging.  Informative.  The author does her job in keeping the reader on board with the process.  The cast of characters is colorful and anyone who has ever served on a committee can relate to the intensity, the annoying interactions and the tender moments.   As the committee gets closer to making the decision it starts to become evident what the result will be and you may find yourself advocating one way or the other.  I really appreciated seeing how the result of the decision, compounded by external issues, impacted the congregation.  
There is some solid writing here.  All current topics are on the table and addressed eloquently, often in the sermons given by candidates.  Lots of discussion items that a book club may appreciate. 
My thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Press for the ARC of Search by Michelle Huneven.
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For some reason, I thought Michelle Huneven’s novel, Search, was actually nonfiction. I probably thought that because when I opened the book it says, “Search: A Memoir with Recipes by Dana Louise Potowski”. Dana Potowski is the narrator and protagonist in Huneven’s novel.

Dana is a restaurant critic, food writer and longtime member of a progressive Unitarian Universalist congregation in Arroyo, California. She’s fifty-four, a little dissatisfied at the moment with her professional career, although she recently published another book. She’s also dissatisfied with her church life. When she’s asked to join the church search committee for a new minister, she doesn’t jump at the opportunity. She hasn’t been to church in three months, and isn’t sure she wants to go back. “Almost everything in the Sunday worship had begun to annoy me.” But, at an earlier period in her life, Dana had studied for the ministry. When she realizes the committee will take a year of her life, she thinks she might have found the topic for her next book. And, because food and gathering is so essential to the committee, she can include recipes and food in that book. She just doesn’t want other committee members to know they may be included in her book.

Who would think that a novel about the search for a church’s minister could be so absorbing? The committee is an diverse group, all ages, and representing different segments in the church. Dana is right about the middle age-wise, but the younger members classify her as one of the oldsters. There’s a great deal of conflict in the group, and they are warned about that at a retreat. The eight members are supposed to come to a consensus as they screen and eventually interview the candidates who might be their next minister. But, it’s going to be difficult to come to a consensus when the younger members all side with an outspoken young woman who seems to have an agenda. And, they don’t seem to understand why the older members, who have been through a search before, insist on the protocol and procedures of a search.

Dana Potowski, the narrator and supposed writer of the memoir, brings the other committee members to life, with all their flaws. She admits she’s not perfect. At one point she says she “Didn’t want to seem like the avid gossip hound I am.” She’s not only searching for the church’s next minister. She’s searching for one person, a friend, “a co-conspirator to laugh and confide in.”

If you’re looking for something a little different, Search is an absorbing book as it follows the committee through it’s year. Dana’s voice is just perfect for this story as she realizes how much she cares about the task of selecting the perfect minister. It’s just too bad other people have their own agendas, too.
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Who would have thought that the inner machinations of a church search committee could have been so engaging, produced such drama, and been so witty to boot? I, for one, am enlightened, having never been privy to such a search mission (or is that a missionary search?) Although it moved along a little slowly at times, the cast of rather eclectic, quirky characters ensured that the premise for this tale was anything but dry and musty, and it is likely to have broad appeal even amongst a secular readership. 

As a self-confessed foodie, the recipes at the end were the icing on the cake! 

My thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Group for this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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This is a novel based on the author's own experiences within a liberal and open church.  The story deals with the challenges of choosing a new pastor for the congregation as experienced by a member of the committee tasked with the job.  "Search" very well conveys the sense of family and connection that can come from belonging to a congregation, but also the patience it can take to work with members whose convictions are divergent from one's own.  Usually in Christian communities and other religious denominations, members are encouraged to treat each other as respectfully as possible without surrendering their own convictions.  "Search" deals beautifully with this challenge, and - a bonus- includes descriptions of delightful meals shared at the committee's meetings.  AND the recipes are included.  I find this to be a warm book but not a "cozy", which for me is a good thing.
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A quick read based on a topic I knew nothing about: a church’s search for their new minister. Set against the backdrop of meals, from cafeterias to kitchen tables to church potlucks, decisions were made over fiesta chicken and buko pie. A great read for a church group or book club!
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DNF at 26%. I love the concept and was intrigued about following the process of the search. Unfortunately this is moving too slowly for me. After weeks of reading and only making it through 25%, deciding to put this one down. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the advance reading copy.
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I have told so many people about this book and argued on Goodreads with a reviewer who listed it as a memoir and referred to the main character as Michelle. That's just a testament to how great the book is! A totally unique topic written brilliantly. I will be covering it in some capacity for Book Riot.
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Search was such a fun surprise. I didn't really know what to expect from the book, but this original idea of writing about the year-long process of searching for a new minister worked very well. 

Age and experience really are important. The main character, Dana, a food critic and author had a pretty rough relationship with the youngest member of their search committee, and as it turns out, for good reason. The committer was put together to make a recommendation for who should be the new lead minister in their Unitarian Universalist Church.  There is a strange cast of characters and to watch the dynamics of how one person can take over and control the direction of that group shows a lot about human nature. 

The book is written as a memoir of Dana's. She has been a member of the church for 24 years and was somewhat pressured to join the search committee. We learn a lot about the UU church and how welcoming they are to all religious backgrounds and personal preferences. But, as you can imagine there are conflicts with all those different backgrounds. 

I really enjoyed the book and thank NetGalley for the advance copy in exchange for this honest review.
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I am not sure how I came across this book, but I am so glad that I read this delightful story, about a smallish church in California in search for a new minister.

Dana is our narrator for this funny story. She is a food critic, cook book author and a beloved member of a progressive church in Ca. When they find out their current minister will be retiring in 1 year she puts her name up to be part of the year long search committee to find the church’s next minister, and maybe write a novel based on this experience.

Once accepted into this committee we meet the rest of this committee who could not be any different from each other. We have a man that is part of a thruple, a young woman whose parents paid her way to the committee, some mainstays, and a few that are not even members of the church. The one thing they agree upon that is that want someone fresh to come in and change up some things.

Huneven writes the one year of how a search like this would potentially go, from bonding, to pre-interviews, to the final offer. There were lot’s of cringe worthy moments in this book, along with laughter and all the bickering you would expect when performing a search like this.

Super fun book to read, and great for discussion, especially the culmination of who the committee ends up selecting. I had so much fun with this story. Bonus, Cassandra Campbell is the narrator for the audiobook and she was just perfect, if you want to try that medium.

Thank you NetGalley and Penguin Press for an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Interesting story about a restaurant critic/food writer.
The focus of the story is on finding a new minister for a church.  There seemed to be many dinner meetings with lovely sounding meals.  The author includes some of these recipes in the back of the book which was nice.  There are a few recipes I just may make one day.
Although this book was not something I could really become interested in, I did find it a intriguing read.
Many thanks to NetGalley, the publisher and author for the opportunity to read this book for my honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.
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Original and unique, The Search follows a Unitarian Universalist Church committee during the year they meet to select a new minister. Author and church member Dana Potowski has plans to write a book about this search (including recipes for dishes served at the meetings) so she reluctantly agrees to serve on the committee.

What follows is an inside look at how new ministers are selected. There’s a survey completed by the entire congregation: Great preacher! Good at fundraising! That blends with the committee’s own prejudices: Young! A woman! Not another older white man! Finally, candidates are chosen. Jennie, an outspoken younger member, champions the least qualified minister and convinces some other members to agree. Dana refuses and the battles that follow show that church committees are as political as those of Congress.

I was eager to read The Search because I knew nothing about the subject. Michelle Huneven clearly does. That knowledge and her beautiful, readable literary style make this a 5 star read. The recipes get 5 stars of their own!

Thank you yo NetGalley, Penguin Press and Michelle Huneven for this ARC.
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The stylistic choice to frame a fiction novel as a memoir is clever, and the general plot outline was an interesting concept that prompted me to request an ARC of the book. I was also looking forward to seeing how food stories and recipes we interwoven. I was disappointed that the recipes are bunched at the end, and that this wasn't really a foodie story. it was also a little dense with the inner workings of the church. The story was cleverly told, but not richly developed.
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The story of a congregation looking for a minister to succeed the one who is retiring is told in the form
of a committee and its hearings (and there are wonderful recipes and food to gloat over) whilst we go through
with all the meetings that follow.

The congregational search is in itself divided. There seems to be fairly well established rules for the entire
process but very early on the group seems to be divided by young and old, conservative views and definitely more
radical ones. My knowledge of church leaders if very narrow so it was an eye opener for me. Ministers using
every trick in the book to keep a congregation happy. Theatrics, yoga, comparative religions, plenty of music of
every kind, a few under hand tricks as well to get a Ministership (?) if thats what its called with a negotiation
which would do a corporate proud to get the best deal.

The book meandered chapter by chapter but it did not hide the passion of the church members to do what they feel
is best for their church. Unfortunately many of the feelings clashed and most were intractable. Those who gave in
gracefully "for the common good" felt cheated at the end that the result was not worth the sacrifice of principles
and ethics.

The story is an unusual one, and is a page turner.
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Very good. This is an enjoyable story, well told, with interesting characters and some humor along the way. Recommended.

I really appreciate the free review copy for review!!
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I thoroughly enjoy the journey that the author took to find a minister. Even though I read the synopsis about the book, I didn't know what I would find until I started reading it. And what I found is that searching for a new minister is as complicated and time consuming as picking the next candidate for President of the United States.
First there has to be a committee, than they have to get to know each other, than they have to go through packets of candidates and finally they invite the applicant to preach and from there they pick the minister.
But wait it isn't that simple, there is politics and pressure to convince that one applicant is better than the next, but it doesn't mean the best was chosen, and that is where the story is. The story is in how the people in the committee acted toward one another and are accountability to what is best for all, not just what is right for one, but it didn't happen that way.
And I found that the author found her truth and that she try her darnest to stand in it, but she thought about the all and not herself.

I loved the restaurant reviews because they were fun and also they were in towns in Los Angeles that I am very familiar with, since I grew up in Eagle Rock. I also like all the animals in her life and her reflection about all the characters she encounter while on her search, I could feel her frustration over certain commiittee members or fondness toward present and pass ministers and it made the story that more real. I'm glad I read this tale.

I want to thank PENGUIN GROUP The Penguin Press, Penguin Press and NetGalley for this interesting tale
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