Fatherless by Brian J. Gail
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Although 536 pages sounds like a lot to get through, this book was a pretty quick read. While it started out seeming contrived and predictable, it got better the further along I read. Perhaps it was the structure of the book that kept me hooked: several story lines progressing simultaneously with each chapter left me eager for the next installment.
First the bad news: The word "cheesy" comes to mind, but only because I thought the characters were stereotypical post-Vatican II American Catholics. I felt like the author was hitting me over the head with scientific analysis of the action of the birth control pill through conversations that seemed over-the-top unrealistically earnest. There was at least one editorial comment that was left in the book and a few other areas that weren't edited well. I was annoyed that "Coors Light" would be followed by a trademark logo, but "Michelob" was not. I was amused when the characters in the book (including a priest) expressed shock to hear the Pill could act as an abortifacient and was complicit in the rise of breast cancer. I thought everyone already knew that, but perhaps not. (The story takes place sometime in the late 80's, I believe. Perhaps the actions of the Pill weren't as well known then). If the author's purpose was to inform an uneducated Catholic population of the dangers of hormonal contraceptives and the secularization of our culture, then he succeeded admirably. Getting those folks to read this book might be difficult. Having them understand it as based in fact might be even more difficult.
Now the good news: I'm still thinking about the story several days after finishing the book. There was something deep in the book that the cheese and stereotypes couldn't completely mask. And the story, which was rather depressing yet left the reader with a glimmer of hope, is a true story of the Catholic Church in America and the Western world. Our culture has produced a lot of messed up families, marriages and lives. But Our Lord promised he wouldn't leave us as orphans and he hasn't. The Church has been immensely blessed in these dark days, with two great pontiffs: Blessed John Paul the Great and our current pope, Benedict XVI. We have every reason to hope in the future.
I must admit, I'm "hooked," and will read his next book, in The American Tragedy in Trilogy: Motherless. I wonder if there will be any stereotypical homeschoolers in it?
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