By Jason F. Wright
John Bevan, protagonist in Wright's The Cross Gardener
, may remind you of a more modern version of George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life
, minus the suicidal thoughts.
After suffering the loss of his mother, older brother, father, wife, and unborn son, John's grief easily evokes a sense of compassion in the reader. However, when he fails in his role as a father, realizes it, and continually does nothing about it, a certain frustration sets in. This overly long period of self-pity simply makes me want to slap some sense into the main character. The only action in the novel consists of everyone in John's life - the Cross Gardener, his second oldest brother, his in-laws, even his daughter's teacher - trying to help him move forward.
Who is this Cross Gardener who knows so much about John's life? We have no idea, and that's the point. The mystery revolving around the Cross Gardener's identity, which was the one thing keeping me reading, was a pleasant surprise and saved the entire story for me. The writing style is easy to read, though highly religious. While being cheesy, romantic and a little overdone, the book features an emotion-packed beginning and end that saved this reader from much regret. Jason Wright is also co-author of Glenn Beck's The Christmas Sweater
and will be doing a reading at the Barnes and Noble in Carmel on Thursday, March 4 at 7 p.m.