1999, Lilyfield Press, 316 pages, softcover, Catholic
Recommended for high school and adults
Reviewed by Suchi Myjak
Plot overview: After the tragic death of Mick O'Shea, a Catholic fireman from Philadelphia, his widow Tammy and their children are invited to spend the summer at the Kentucky farm of Tammy's brother Les and his family. The catch? Les is the fundamentalist pastor of a small homegrown "Bible-only" church. He believes it is his duty to "save" his sister and her family from the Catholic Church. The story centers on 17-year-old Michael, who is chosen as the preferred point of contact. At first, Michael is very uncertain about Scripture and feels that his uncle's explanations are right; however, Mick has given him a solid grounding in the Faith, so he seeks the answers in Mick's library.
The author does a fine job of portraying the characters with their struggles and motivations. For example:
- Michael's search for truth is realistic, keeping us guessing how it will turn out.
- Tammy allows her son to face the challenge, realizing that he is too old to just be told the answers. I love the way the author shows the impact of her prayerful support.
- Fundamentalists are beautifully shown to be motivated by charity, while at the same time the weakness of their sola scriptura position is exposed.
- I also enjoyed the contrast between the reactions of the characters who were seeking Truth and those who felt threatened by it. (As a convert, I can appreciate both positions!)
Not only is much excellent apologetic material included in a natural, enjoyable, and engaging format, but it is done with charity and even humility. Topics covered include the Inquisition, the papacy, the role of Mary, and the authority and interpretation of the Bible.
The richness of the Faith comes through in other ways as well. I especially loved the way the author portrays the uniqueness of the Sacrifice of Christ even as it is extended through time in the re-presentation of that Sacrifice in the Mass. Other elements woven into the story include questions of what is really important in life, the support of the Christian community, and the power of prayer.
All in all a very satisfying Catholic novel.