The Flower of Grass
By James E. Robinson
Published by Kregel's Publishing
Back Cover: "John Allen had come back to say goodbye. But he was too late; there would be no atonement."
John Allen returns to his home town after the death of his alcoholic, abusive father. He has been gone 16 years and has become a successful writer, but with major addiction problems of his own. Now he
struggles to make amends with his careworn sister and dropout younger brother – and, perhaps, to pick up the pieces of his teenage love affair with Jessie.
But Jessie has grown tired of waiting for letters that ceased to come, and has married. At cost might their love be rekindled?
An exquisitely written, passionate and thoughtful novel, this is a classic love story framing deeper themes of mortality and passing time, the true nature of faith, and the delicate balance of human relationships.
Review:"Life's about living out what's in front of you, and trying to accept whatever life brings us, one day at a time, as a gift." John Allen had rushed home as fast as he could, but he was too late. He missed talking to his father face to face one last time. He wasn't ready to face his home and the woman he left behind. He has been clean and sober for about a year now. He was ready - or so he thought until he got there. It felt like nothing had changed, but at the same time everything had changed.
Fear, shame, failures and memories flooded his mind. He wasn't prepared for the memories that hit him when he moved into his father's cabin; nightmares of his childhood and other demons haunt him there. This was the pain that made him leave home in the first place. He thought he had dealt with these demons, but here they were, up close and personal and on a new level. Can he get through this sober? He didn't have good feelings about this. Then there is Jessie, the love of his life. The love that he left behind. He just wants to talk with her and say he's sorry and finally say goodbye. She deserved that much. They just needed to clear the air so that they both could move on. It's been many years, many broken promises. She was married now. He knew that, but they still needed to talk.
Maybe it would be best to send a note to Jessie. This way he wouldn't invade her space and it would be her choice to contact him. After all, Jessica has been married 6 years. He just thought he would say he's sorry and try to explain. He had written her letters in the past he just couldn't mail them. Jessie is not the only one that he's hurt in his absence. His siblings share their own pain with him and what they have been through since he was gone.
This book is powerful and very real in its message. This is a slice of life that shows lost love and the bitter affects that addiction has on everyone's life. Johnny returns home to something he didn't expect; he is welcomed with open arms and he didn't deserve any of it! He had left so much behind – the ones he loved are the same people he couldn't face because of what he had become. They showed him a love he didn't deserve. It was almost overwhelming. He had learned that "life can be so cruel and mean" – pain is part of life. Without pain, I reckon we might take all the beauty for granted. Then love finds us. Love was new for Johnny.
Johnny finally comes to the conclusion that "No one person can save us. Only Jesus can." Johnny also realizes when he says "Something happened to me; I lost who I really was, lost everything true. You wouldn't have liked me. " That's why he stayed away. But, none of his past seemed to matter to his family and friends.
Johnny has to face the pain of his childhood and the stronghold his father has on him even from the grave. Will Johnny let his heavenly Father love him totally? Will he believe what his heavenly Father says about him or will he still buy in to all the lies? Can he walk in what Jesus says about him and love?
You will be powerfully moved by this story. It will get you thinking about the real meaning of love and life. I can't wait to see what James Robinson will write about next.
Reviewed by Nora St.Laurent