Friday, February 04, 2011
John Herrick's From the Dead ~ Reviewed
From The Dead [Paperback]
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Segue Blue (August 31, 2010)
A preacher's son, a father in hiding, a guilty heart filled with secrets: When Jesse Barlow escaped to Hollywood, he hungered for fame--but eleven years of failure result in a drug-induced suicide attempt. Revived at death's doorstep, Jesse returns to his Ohio hometown to make amends with his preacher father, a former love, and Jesse's own secret son. But Jesse's renewed commitment becomes a baptism by fire when his son's advanced illness calls for a sacrifice--one that could cost Jesse the very life he regained. A story of mercy, hope, and second chances, From The Dead captures the human spirit with tragedy and joy.
There are so many things I could say about this book. It was edgy. It was heart-wrenching. It was honest. Bottom line...it had a lot of guts. In some ways the story made me think of a Nicholas Sparks novel, at least for the second half of the book.
The first half was more gritty, especially the language - yeah, that included those touchy f-bombs. But it didn't upset me, because it truly fit the story. And I can't stand that word, but it wasn't overly done, in my opinion. It just made the characterization more real in my mind.
I love a story that is emotionally gripping and makes me think about my own life. This book does that. I seriously didn't want to do anything except read this book and nearly read it straight through (darn that day job.) At times I kept thinking things were so intense that the author wouldn't go "there," and then he did. I thought, how much worse could this guy mess up his life? Not much more. But those things was essential in order to illustrate the change in Jesse that occurred later on. It made the story seem more real.
One thing I really loved was the spiritual thread in this book. I didn't find it forced or sappy, and in fact, was more natural than many inspirational books I've read...because it was so honest. It was one of the books greatest strengths (besides the romance,) and thankfully, wasn't in the least bit corny. The main character did a lot of thinking about his life. For most people spirituality is part of that reflective process. The author did a fantastic job showing Jesse processing those things in his life.
I don't often feel moved to tears, but numerous times as I read this story I started to get misty-eyed. And when it came to romance, the scenes between Jesse and Caitlyn were very powerful and emotionally evocative. Though the author is a man, he knows how to reach a woman's heart when he writes romance. I felt breathless several times. Truly!
I loved the embedded message in this book about not running from your problems, or you'll never heal. I loved the message about the difference between selfish love (if you can even call it love) and unselfish, true love. Jesse discovered their was more to life than his initial ambitions in Hollywood, and that was powerfully illustrated when he returned home. Great plotting!
In regards to main characters and secondary characters, the author mastered those distinctions. I felt like I knew everyone in this book personally. I understood them. The only weakness I found was an occasional point of view shift, but that only lasted a few sentences and then things were back on track. But the story was so incredible otherwise, that I'm not factoring that in to my rating at all.
The fact that the author pulled no punches was the main reason this book resonated so much with me. The characterization was very strong. Everyone was three dimensional. There was a particular scene in the first half of the book that was so realistically written, it blew me away. It showed Jesse's pain and just how low his life had gotten. I was probably emotionally impacted in as much as Jesse was (and he's not even a real person!)
In fact, through most of this book I felt like I was Jesse (and he's a guy, I'm not) so that is a sign of great writing. I felt like I lived in his head and wasn't pulled out of the story once. So if you aren't afraid of realistic, gritty language and scenes as long as there is a powerful faith message and a heart gripping plot, you'll want to get this book. It's staying on my keeper shelf.
Reviewed by: Michelle Sutton