Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Review: From the Dead by John Herrick

Review: From the Dead: a novel by John Herrick


Book jacket:
     A preacher’s son. A father in hiding. A guilty heart filled with secrets.
When Jesse Barlow escaped to Hollywood at age eighteen, he hungered for freedom, fame and fortune. Eleven years later, his track record of failure results in a drug-induced suicide attempt. Revived at death’s doorstep, Jesse returns to his Ohio hometown to make amends with his preacher father, a former love, and Jesse’s own secret son. But Jesse’s renewed commitment becomes a  baptism by fire when his son’s advanced illness calls for a sacrifice – one that could cost Jesse the very life he regained.
     A story of mercy, hope, and second chances.  From the Dead captures the human spirit with tragedy and joy.

My thoughts:
     I enjoyed the book, it was well-written and keep me turning the pages.  The story is one that most people can relate to on some level, either from their own personal experience or from an “I know someone who…” experience.  On the whole I would recommend the book, but I would be careful to whom I suggested it to.  It is a fantastic story of hope, overcoming internal struggles, and finding yourself.  It is a wonderful story of faith and acceptance, and a look at the kind of church and spirituality so many people look for.  The idea of God and religion in the story are wonderful.  The content and concepts are for a more mature audience. 
     The author builds a nice character. Jada is everything that you have come to expect from a “Hollywood” minded woman.  She is shallow, self-serving, selfish, cold, and brutally honest.  Her and Jesse’s relationship is empty and unfulfilling for both of them, but neither is ready to walk away until the suicide attempt when it all hits home.  My favorite part of Jada is that she is so honest; she doesn’t pull any punches, she doesn’t claim to be anything other than what she is, and she doesn’t make any excuses for being the way she is.  Few people are that comfortable with themselves.  She plays a rather small role in the book as a whole. 
     Although I like all of the characters, Eden is probably my favorite.  Eden is Jesse’s sister and is a wonderfully insightful and compassionate person.  I love that she is places babies with families – such an interesting twist when considering she and Jesse lost their mother so long ago.  Jesse’s father, Chuck, is my second favorite character.  I  love that he came from a regular life and became a preacher.  He personifies the kind of unconditional acceptance that I believe everyone is looking for in a church and a preacher.  You can’t help but admire Caitlyn, making such hard choices and then working so hard to make herself a life. 
    The storyline is one that most people can connect with, perhaps not in setting but in the idea as a whole.  Teen leaves home searching for himself only to realize many years later that he can’t do that until he goes back home again.  I love that idea. 
     The only part of the story that I don’t like is the illness aspect.  Not the fact that anyone has an illness, just the fact that Jesse doesn’t do anything positive about his own illness.  We start hearing about his symptoms at the beginning of the book and they continue throughout the story.  He has plenty of opportunities to check out what is wrong with him.  I understand the whole no insurance thing, but at some point you do something even if it costs you a bunch of money.  The illness part is further complicated by the boy’s symptoms, which aren’t checked out either – but this I understand more, tiredness as the only symptom wouldn’t send me to the doctor with a child either.  The frustrating thing is that Jesse appears to recognize the symptoms in his son and continues to say nothing.  I find this hard to believe, I would think that he would want the doctors to have all the information they could get about him and his own blood issues considering he is the father.  The author continues with the “keep the doctors and the others in the dark” aspect of Jesse’s problem until the end of the book. 
     I loved the title, thought it was great that he was getting a second chance after the suicide attempt, but the second near death experience was a waste in my opinion.  Jesse should have figured out, like every reader I am sure did, that his son’s blood disorder wasn’t too different from his own and that not only could he NOT help the boy, but that his marrow would be useless and that the risk was for nothing.  I was sad to see that Drew would be spending forever with the memory of his father almost dying in front of him and the guilt that will go along with knowing that it was all a wasted attempt to save him.  I am not trying to discount the amount of love that is required to make such a selfless sacrifice – just saying that the child could have benefited from honesty more directly in this situation.
  Even though I disagree with Jesse’s decision – I truly enjoyed the book.

2 comments:

Julie P said...

This one has been on my wish list for a while. Thanks for sharing!

JessiKay89 said...

This is a great, honest review. I think I would have a little bit of trouble with this one only because I hate when characters take forever to figure out something that's so blatantly obvious. I can't usually suspend my disbelief, but if it's something that obvious, it gets a little annoying. This does sound like a good book, though, and I enjoyed your descriptions of some of the other characters.