A Job-like pastor comes to terms with his dramatic past in this Christian novel.
Hunky pastor Jack Douglas has a perfect life outside Savannah, Georgia, until his wife and two children are killed in a horrible car accident. The trauma of the loss shakes Jack’s faith in God, so he sells his house and car, buys some supplies from a sporting goods store, and sets out on foot into the anonymous vastness of North America. “I have to just go,” he thinks, walking along the highway, “go somewhere, anywhere but Georgia to sort things out. This is not about finding myself, purpose, or even about finding God. Heck, I thought I’d found Him before. It’s about moving. Keep on moving.” As he wanders overland, he encounters duplicitous homeless men, wild bears, and armed robbers before taking a job at an oil rig in North Dakota. When tragedy strikes the rig, Jack realizes he must get even farther away from civilization than he’s been thus far, so he sets out for the Last Frontier. He ends up befriending a wolf, whom he names Amaroq, in the Alaskan wilderness. Even more surprising, he meets an innkeeper in Nome—an Inuit woman named Qaniit—who takes his mind off his tragic past. But if Jack thinks he can escape tragedy in the far north, he has another thing coming. The question is, will God find him there as well? Charles (My War with Hemingway, 2015) writes in a muscular prose that suits the no-nonsense directness of his protagonist: “He lowers the knife and unzips the tent. Peering out through the opening, he sees a large stag standing nearby watching him. Stark naked, he eases out of the tent, stands, holding the knife in his hand.” Jack has perhaps too much of an action hero in him—he wins many fistfights, tames a wolf, and becomes the object of affection of every woman he meets—and the novel is loaded with familiar tropes. Even so, the plot and setting are wild enough to keep the audience entertained. Charles’ tale probably won’t affect readers’ faith in God, but it might stir their wanderlust.
An enjoyable, if implausible, journey story.