A debut novel exploring Christian faith that follows the trials and tribulations of the Makinski family from the Great Depression onward.
Hailing from Buffalo, N.Y., the Makinskis are—to the outsider—a seemingly picture-perfect 1950s family: attorney husband, John, and religiously observant wife, Jayne, and their two beautiful girls, Sheila and the younger Abbey. They appear to be a model family with a clean image and a beautiful home. Yet, in this nonlinear story, lurking under the surface of this calm veneer are caustic spiritual depravity and primal jealousy that threaten their happiness, stability and faith. As the narrative changes focus and time, each character is given attention, though two dominate the work: Sheila, with her jealousy and hatred for her younger sister, and John, with his loss of faith after a lifetime of dissatisfaction. In particular, John’s story is exceptionally well-rendered. Son of Polish immigrants, he’s forced to abandon his dream of becoming a player for the Yankees after his father’s unexpected death, which was the beginning of a life of difficult work, hard service in World War II and disgust at God, whom he deems responsible for his unhappiness. John’s cruel to his young children and wife, though his disgusting behavior is somewhat explainable. Sheila, meanwhile, morphs from bully into a godless woman who seeks pleasure from life in a rejection of faith. Elsewhere, Abbey takes her mother’s counsel to heart and begins living her life for the Lord, a difficult but ultimately rewarding task. Spanning decades, this is a novel of relationship intricacies, careful plotting and detailed history. Each chapter is preceded by a relevant Bible verse, allowing for contemplation of Scripture and, potentially, presenting new ways to understand it. Yet characters can be so good in their godliness that they lose their humanity and become wooden symbols. Additionally, dialogue occasionally sounds hollow in its correctness and lack of colloquialism, particularly when children speak in sophisticated sentences. Still, the engaging story will illuminate paths of faith for believers and entertain even less-spiritual readers.
An engaging spiritual journey that shows the demanding but redemptive power of Christianity.