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From the Dead
Author: John Herrick
Segue Blue
ISBN: 9780982147016
376 Pages
 
Finalist – 2010 Next Generation Indie Book Awards
 
On his website, the short bio of John Herrick tells us that 
 
“John Herrick is a writer with a passion for the human heart. His desire is not merely to entertain, but to uplift and impact readers, encouraging them to pursue their dreams. Discover a rising author with a voice of purpose.”
 
From the Dead, his debut novel, exhibits these qualities evocatively. Allegorically, it seems to me, re-telling the Biblical parable of the Prodigal Son, Herrick's brilliant work tells the story of the fall and rise of Jesse Barlow, a pastor's son who “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 sacrifice­one that could cost Jesse the very life he regained.”
 
All too often in Christian fiction, authors fail to engage with the dark side of our life. It seems to me that many writers are too keen to jump straight in to the redemptive part of the arc of their character's story, as if engaging with darkness, evil, sin and doubt in a real, honest way, is too edgy, or dangerous to countenance. One of the most gratifying (and, perhaps, shocking) aspects of From the Dead is that it meets the evil and sin in the life of its main protagonist, Jesse, head on, and graphically. Certainly not for the faint of heart, these passages, early in the book, are among the most realistic portraits I have come across in Christian fiction of the depths to which some of us have fallen, and continue to fall in our walk with God. To me, this book is worth reading for this reason alone, but from there it only gets better, as Jesse's relationships with his sister Eden, teenage sweetheart Caitlyn, and the son he never knew he had, prior to his running away to Hollywood, Drew are drawn out sensitively and sympathetically. 
 
This is a book you won't want to put down. I devoured it in two sittings, and found myself emotionally drawn in to the web of the story, as Jesse's life first unravels and is then pieced back together. There is a heart and integrity to Herrick's writing, both on the subjects of the dark and light in our lives and the contrasts between them, which carries the reader along, almost forces them to care, and encourages them to become part of the world he has created. Part of this comes from, in me at least, the sense that, while not many of us have been where Jesse is, many of us have struggled with our own pasts, demons and sins, and many of us have found a hope which picked us up from the depths and gave us a new life and freedom. It is fantastic to find a new authorial voice speaking up for the truth, in such an honest fashion. I would encourage all thinking people, whether Christian or not, to pick up this book and read it. You won't be disappointed.
 
Haydon Spenceley


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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