Hinton’s ninth novel is a feel-good tale in which an inexperienced priest, a wayward young woman and a terminally ill boy save the soul of a small town.
All you need to know about Pie Town, N.M., is that you can’t find any pie there. It’s that kind of place, insular, wary and a little ornery, and nobody’s going to tell the only restaurant in town they have to serve pie. The only thing that brings the place together is Alex Begay, the sheriff’s grandson, born with spina bifida, abandoned by his mother Angel and wise beyond his years. Into town come Father George, fresh from the seminary to his first parish, and Trina (she hitched a ride into Pie Town with Father George), a young woman with a hard past and a heart of gold. Alex takes a shine to her, Sheriff Begay rents her a room above his garage and she finds some waitressing work at the diner. As Alex’s condition worsens, he seems more concerned with the town than with his own survival (the spirit of his great-grandmother is always near him, guiding him). When the church burns to the ground, all fingers point toward an obviously pregnant Trina, and even though Father George knows the truth, his own crisis of faith and inability to counsel prevents him from helping her. More than anything, Alex wants Father George and Trina to stay in Pie Town, but in inspirational fashion, it is only through his death that he can save everyone. Most strikingly, Sheriff Begay and his ex-wife are reunited at Alex’s death (it was only their heartache over their daughter Angel that drove them apart), love is kindled between a waitress and an old rancher, Father George and Trina return and a church is rebuilt.
Heartfelt, Christian goodwill triumphs in this utterly predictable story.