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What a Ride!
on April 23, 2010
Jack's life began violently. This is more a reflection of his father than Jack, but as Jack says this story is about Mary - his mother. Mary loves Jack even though he can't hear or speak to her, which perhaps the reason why she put up with Jack's father for so long. Jerry wasn't a good husband and certainly wasn't a good father but he provided for Mary and Jack. Then Mary found their life savings and a note from a woman in Jerry's coat pocket and takes matters into her own hands. Thus beginning a whirlwind adventure taking Mary and Jack from their frightening home into an even harsher reality. Chicago in the depression era is not a pretty place and while Mary struggles to find a job and more importantly a roof over her and her young son's head, she stumbles on an unusual gift. Jack can see the future. Communicating only through relevant Bible verses Jack warns of disaster and brings good news to those he touches. Mary realizes Jack's holy gift could be the answer to their financial woes and secure his future. But she quickly finds that you always let the bad in with the good, and finds that Jack may suffer the same fate she did as a child, or worse.
This is an intriguing and utterly engaging novel. Mary and Jack's adventure is just that, an adventure, through the mean streets of Chicago. This novel starts fast, hooks the reader and barrels on ahead until the end. There were times while reading that the anxiety rose so high I had to put it down. The excitement of the story ranges from one extreme to another - whether Mary's desperate flight from Jerry, the realization of Jack's gift, and the good and bad that comes from all of it. The first three quarters of the novel are perfectly constructed, completely engaging, and white knuckle addicting. Unfortunately, the last quarter of the book seemed to fall apart plot wise. The plot thickens for Mary and Jack in terms of his unique gift, just in time to completely disappear. The story takes a new turn and seems to never again address the gift that the novel is names for. Now, the authors do pull it full circle by suggesting that Jack himself is the "silent gift", but not to a satisfying enough conclusion for the direction that the book started with. It seemed as though one author wrote the first of the book and the other came in to finish. If the novel had been written in a secular field for younger readers than it could have been split in to two serial novels. But it isn't, and wasn't. The plot split isn't enough to cancel the novel as a whole as the story is great and exciting, even after the plot took a brand new turn, it just feels a bit bi-polar.
Overall, this is definitely worth reading. The writing is interesting, the dialogue is quick, and the story is absolutely thrilling and in ways beautiful. Perhaps the most satisfying way to read the novel is to take Jack's advice in the beginning and read it as Mary's story, not Jack's. I wish that there had been a better conclusion.
*Book provided by Bethany House Publishing at no cost.