I knew that I would be crying by the time I finished this novel, it was the way that the author introduced his characters and the subject matter. I was certain just by those first few chapters, that a few things were definitely going to occur while reading this novel. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to put down this novel until I had finished it, tears would definitely be falling sometime while I read, and I knew that there would be times when I would have to stop reading and just reflect on the words that I had just read. This book definitely got me, Mitch spoke my language and I knew exactly what he was saying.
Mitch introduces us to two individuals: Reb and Henry. Reb was Mitch’s only rabbi. Mitch was a religious individual growing up. It wasn’t until he graduated college did he let God take a backseat. He felt as a sportswriter that he didn’t need anything from God and he didn’t have time for him so he parked God off to the side. When Mitch went back home, he went to his childhood church with his parents. He remembers Reb as being an exceptional man, one who made everyone feel special. Mitch said that when they listened to his sermon, “honestly, you exhaled when he finished, that’s how good he was.” As a child, I remember listening to individuals, behind the pulpit, who had this type of effect on me. The more that Mitch talked about Reb, the more I could remember having some of the same experiences growing up.
On one particular visit home, Reb asks Mitch to do his eulogy upon his death. Mitch hasn’t been around Reb in 25 years so after contemplating the idea, Mitch decides he will but he wants to know the entire Reb, not just the religious side.
Mitch spends time with Reb, visiting him in a variety of circumstances. This brings about stories, questions, laughs and other issues that otherwise might not have been discussed. Reb is worried about his second death and whether he will have one. Mitch sees the man, the rabbi, the individual that everyone looks up to, he realizes who the Reb really is. There was this peacefulness poise as this relationship transpired and as his eulogy was spoken, it was spoken from the heart.
Mitch meets Pastor Henry and I felt the Reb within him. Henry has had a difficult past. Religion has been a part of Henry’s life only when Henry wants it to be and when he chooses to listen to God’s responses, when he calls out to him for help. Now, a pastor of a crumbly church, Henry has a positive attitude and a nonexistent cash flow. Henry opens his church and home to the homeless and anyone who needs the churches assistance. The building just houses the people and it’s the people who God cares about, is what keeps Henry moving forward as his building falls apart around him. Mitch listens to his powerful sermons as water buckets catch the drips falling from the ceiling. Mitch writes about Pastor Henry and his viewers respond. I didn’t expect miracles from what Mitch had written and I didn’t want their lives to be changed overnight. Individuals responded honestly and heartedly. I was happy for anything that would help this struggling congregation get upright. Henry was giving of himself for his church and his ministry and he was pleased with how others responded to their need.
I cried, I really cried as I found myself drawn into this novel. It truly moved me. he ending was not how I expected but that is life. There was a lot to like about this novel. It truly was a great novel.