When Tom Hope, a practical sheep farmer in 1960s Australia, married Hannah Babel, a twice-widowed Auschwitz survivor many years his senior, not everyone thought it was a good idea.
But then again, Tom was easily swayed by women. His first wife, Trudy, had left him. Twice. The first time, she returned pregnant with another man’s child. The second time, she joined a Christian commune, saddling Tom with raising her son, Peter. Tom and Peter became an amicable pair, herding sheep, pruning trees, and fixing engines together. So when Trudy returned two years later to claim Peter, it nearly broke both Tom, who refused to live alone again, and Peter, who had no love for this mother he didn’t know, much less the Jesus Camp. Luckily, for Tom, Hannah comes to town, eager to open a bookstore. She hires Tom to help renovate the old shop building, and the two quickly become lovers. Although Hannah has survived the Holocaust, the memories of those she lost, including her son, Michael, haunt her. Meanwhile, unluckily for Peter, the pastor in charge of Jesus Camp is a controlling patriarch who believes heartily in thrashing the spirit of God into misbehaving boys, especially those who run away, like Peter. And although Tom would gladly fight to keep Peter, both the law and Hannah are against him, for Peter isn't Tom’s biological son, and Hannah can't bear to love a boy again, a boy who could be lost just as Michael was. Can Tom and Hannah find a way to bring Peter home? Hillman (The Boy in the Green Suit, 2008, etc.) crafts a compelling tale, toggling among Tom’s, Hannah’s, and Peter’s perspectives, as he delineates the stripping of each heart and draws together the ties that bind them together again.
A heart-wrenching tale of love enduring all things in the face of evil.