Booksparks provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
After twenty years of riding the rails, Alphonse has earned a reputation for being a kindhearted soul always ready to help. When he helps the Sadlers, a young couple seeking a better life in small-town 1950s Indiana, he doesn’t intend to stay. But stay he does, keeping a close eye on the Sadlers and their two young sons–and an even closer eye on the town’s new priest, Father Brennon. On the surface, Brennon seems perfect for the job–but Alphonse crossed paths with him years earlier in the railyard jungle, and he knows better. Brennon doesn’t recognize Alphonse, but Alphonse has never forgotten Brennon . . . or his crimes. So when Brennon assigns the Sadlers’ son, Francis, who is now thirteen, the thankless task of cleaning and maintaining the church’s bell tower–work that often continues into the night–Alphonse immediately grows suspicious. Soon, he discovers that his worst fears have come to pass, and he races to find a way to protect Francis and reveal the truth to the Sadler family.
This book turned out to be a lot deeper than I had anticipated. I was initially drawn to this book because it was compared to A Man Called Ove; I was expecting an entertaining read with a lot of sarcastic dry humor. There was definitely humor in this book, but the story had a levity that that comparison doesn’t imply. And I don’t say that with the implication that it’s a bad thing. On the contrary, this book was a great read. It just turned out to be a lot more than I expected.
Alphonse is a cranky old bat, but he’s also witty, and smart, and outwardly more expressive in his feelings than I expected. And the storyline in general touches on some pretty intense topics, topics that really make you stand up and pay attention. Overall, this is definitely worth a read if you like characters who are more than what you see on the surface, and a story that delves into topics that grab at your feelings and make you pay attention.
About the author (from SparkPress):
Carl Sever began writing fiction in part because of his interest in the 1930’s Dust Bowl, hobo culture and lore, and small-town midwestern life, especially in areas dominated by the Roman Catholic Church. His writing has also been an important part of recovery from a traumatic brain injury he suffered in a car accident in 1990. Carl has been a teacher, a journalist, and nature photographer. He has also been a businessman and co-owner of an exclusive wholesale photo lab. He’s an avid outdoorsman, passionate fly-fisherman, and adventurer who has explored the mountains of Colorado, Montana, Canada, and Alaska. His travels have taken him to Costa Rica and Panama, reinforcing his study of Spanish as a second language. He’s a lifelong learner, with studies ranging from screenwriting and sculpture to nature photography. Alphonse is his first novel.
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