Debut featuring a wisenheimer young hero with a little sister who may or may not be a living saint.
One may be forgiven for thinking off the bat that first-person narrator Monroe Anderson—young, cynical, frustrated and perhaps a little too clever for his own good—is just another Holden Caulfield wannabe. But the novel takes an unexpected turn when Monroe—on his way to the pool house to get high before prom—finds his little sister Annicka floating face-down and motionless in the deep end. Monroe dives in after her, and, in doing so, not only rescues the ten-year-old, but also launches a series of events that give him substantial fodder for adolescent philosophizing, and which give his story a unique and intriguing shape. Annicka emerges from the pool alive but unconscious. A pretty little girl in a coma, she elicits considerable attention in her community and in the media—attention that only increases when Annicka seems to be the source of miracles, beginning with a shower of rose petals and culminating in stigmata and reports of faith-healing. Thus, Monroe must contend not just with the usual crises and calamities of young adulthood—most of them having to do with sex or the absence of same—but he also has to deal with the loss of his sister and the growing congregation of Annicka’s devotees, a group that includes his newly devout mother. Monroe is a precocious and kind-hearted theologian, and he asks some trenchant questions of a religion that not only accepts suffering, but promotes it, and although Krause is sometimes too willing to end his chapters with pithy aphorisms, he is ultimately wise enough to leave many of the thorny metaphysical and ethical questions his novel examines unanswered.
An original take on a boy’s coming-of-age and a sly, thoughtful look at the complexities of faith.