JONAS AND SALLY by Rich Foss

JONAS AND SALLY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Not surprisingly, spiritual messages permeate this predictable first novel by an elder of the Mennonite church in Illinois. In 1932, Jonas, a 20-year-old preacher, goes to a tiny island in Lake Michigan to build a congregation among the Norwegian immigrant fishing community. There he meets Sally, a mistrustful young woman who gets edgy when he talks to her daughter, Samantha. Soon he falls in love with Sally and decides God wants him to marry her. When Sally confides that she was raped by her father at 16 and that Samantha is their child, Jonas confronts the father, who beats him up. Meanwhile, other islanders, who hear about what happened and know something about the rape, want to teach Sally's no-good father a lesson. Should Jonas go along? Can he learn to forgive the father as the Bible says? Clearly, the purpose of this novel is to explore these and other theological questions. While there is intelligence behind the writing, the characters often seem more like attitudes than people. ""You told me that God sent you on a mission to this island,"" Sally says to Jonas. ""Then you told me God called you to another island...Now you come back and tell me that God wants you to stay here. What am I to believe?"" Sally's trauma-inspired reactions to men are portrayed simplistically, as is the wisdom of a fisherman, Daniel, who appears to know all about the lovers. Daniel tells Jonas, ""Sometimes she wants to be close and sometimes she doesn't, right?...Sometimes she likes being touched and sometimes not, right?...You have to sense the wind and tack with the wind."" One wishes the author could have heeded this advice regarding readers and how much dogma they are able to tolerate in a single novel. Strictly for the religious market.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1994
ISBN: 1561483052
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Good Books