Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Book Review: Motherless

The stack of books I'm trying to read is much larger than what my calendar allows for. When I do actually finish a book though, I want to use the blog to tell you what I thought about it. I'm happy to lend this or any other book in my library if you live near me and don't look like a hooligan.

Fr. Benedict Groeschel has described author Brian Gail's books as being, "What Blessed John Paul II envisioned when he summoned a new evangelization. Motherless is the second in Gail's trilogy of books, with Fatherless coming first and Childless coming last.

In this book, we reconnect with Fr. John Sweeney and his parishioners over a decade after the events of Fatherless. All of the main characters are wiser, and in many cases happier, than when we last met them in Fatherless. This wisdom is fortunate because it prepares them to be thrust into the heart of the cultural battle of our era.

A few of the key characters, through their various lines of work, find out about the latest atrocities in embryonic stem cell research and what those with power intend to do with their newfound knowledge. It is up to Fr. John to counsel his parishioners to courageously stand up to the evil power-holders of the world, and to stand up to them himself as well.

It's interesting to note, and maybe this is just necessary for story-telling, that as Gail tries to craft an average, albeit East Coast, parish, he doesn't write "average" people, even for his parishioners. You'd think that Fr. John Sweeney's parish is filled only with magnates and CEO's who all have a second home on the shore somewhere. (Also, you'd think that Fr. Sweeney never has to sit through a parish council or finance council meeting. Lucky priest). Gail only writes big characters in order to move his story along.

Gail writes engaging, fast paced novels without a lot of down time. He just skips from one high point to the next. For example, if a character dies, you skip over the initial shock of friends and family receiving the news, and the next time that character is mentioned is the funeral, where you find out about the friends' shock through internal monologue. If a character is fired unexpectedly, you skip that character breaking the news to family and next meet the character at the farewell party. This allows Gail to write a long book (Motherless is 509 pages) that never feels slow, and it allows him to cover a lot of ground in a single novel.

Motherless is an excellent book with just enough resolution to leave me satisfied as the second book of a trilogy, but also with just enough open questions to make me eager to read the concluding book. But more importantly, Brian Gail has found a creative means to speak very powerfully about the evil that threatens humanity.

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