By: C.S. Lakin
Publication Date: September 2010
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: March 7, 2011
Pastor Terry tried to comfort Matt by throwing out the oft used platitude about ‘God testing him.’ Something about that statement just didn’t seem to wash when his memory flashed back to the scene of the accident at “The Trap” when he saw his son Jesse lying dead on the ground. And then there was his other son, Daniel. He was gone too and that further convinced Matt that “God sure had some warped sense of purpose.” Big time warped. Irene, his wife, escaped into her own little world and their daughter, Casey, had a shrine in honor of her brothers and often wore their clothing. They were going to escape the past and were moving to Breakers, a small town in California, a town as far away from the memories as they could get.
Irene had taken a full-time job teaching third grade at Breakers Elementary while Matt worked on fixing up their rundown rental, the Salmonberry House. Casey was disgusted with everything and everyone and living in a podunk town wasn’t her cup of tea until she spotted Billy Thurber. A hunk in podunk was a sight any fourteen-year-old girl would love, especially one so lost. She was the only one who thought the drifter was appealing. The trouble seemed to begin as soon as that boy stepped foot in Breakers offering up firewood for sale. Jerry Hubble, the owner of the dumpy Riptide Motel, watched that creep thinking, “This kid was trouble; there was no mistaking it.” Soon many others would join his camp, including Matt Moore.
Irene began to think about “How empty her arms felt--arms that used to be full of laughing, wiggling children” when she saw Casey at her shrine. When she met Billy, a young man with attitude, she was reminded of Daniel. Were they both victims of “expected failure?” Billy, like Daniel was sullen and pushed everyone to their limits. Things started to go awry in Breakers and fingers began to point at him. Sheriff Joe Huff had no choice but to take notice. Things started to disappear. Mrs. Waverly’s necklace was missing and someone broke into Matt’s truck and stole some of his things. A suspicious fire broke out at the Riptide and the town began to go wild with suspicion. It was all because of that Billy Thurber. The best was yet to come when a body was found washed up on the bank of the Trinity River. Lee Chin never liked the look of Billy from the start and thought he portended stagnant chi. Was he right? Was the young drifter the cause of all this mess? Who was to blame for all this calamity? And just where had God disappeared to?
This is a heartbreaking, yet heartwarming tale of a family lost in the throes of grief. I was hooked from the first page to the last … something that is often a difficult task for a writer to accomplish. The underpinnings of faith, however each character chose to define it, was woven through the tapestry of this book. Some characters heavily questioned whether God indeed existed as they struggled with the circumstances of their lives. This is Christian fiction (not at all preachy) but subtly does reach out and ask the reader to examine his or her own relationship with God. The theme is reminiscent of Kushner’s When Bad Things Happen to Good People, only this examination is in an excellent fictionalized format. Someone to Blame is not a heavy read, but rather a pensive one.
Quill says: This is the winner of the Zondervan First Novel contest and well worth the time to read!