The Book of Samuel
St. Martin’s Griffin, Oct 13 2009, $14.99
Samuel Gerard is a regular twelve tear old boy doing things like his schoolmates do; for instance giving his parents a hard time, coping with his pious grandmother and equally religious father, and flirting with the girls at school. One day, with no warning, his father walks out on his family to preach the word of Jesus. Samuel’s life changes for the worse as he is now responsible as the man of the family though not yet a teen.
His friends antagonize and fight with the Hispanicc students and he joins them. His depressed mom needs cheering up and his energetic grandma needs to be placed in a home because the present living conditions are not working any longer. His cousin, forced to leave his hometown due to causing trouble there, moves into the Gerard household; enhancing an already tense family situation. Samuel is angry at the world and takes it out on those who care about him. When his father comes home for a short respite from his mission to save souls, Samuel does not recognize this stranger who used to be his dad. Finally his friends demand he join them as they resolve to handle the Mexican “problem”.
The protagonist has to cope with a series of painful events as a modern day Job rather than Samuel, but has the tenacity and soul to handle his traumas; rejecting his father’s path for redemption means abandoning your loved ones as that is an easy cop out. Erik Raschke uses real social issues like absentee fathers, immigration and aging parents to bring believability to the sudden need for a tweener to grow up rather quickly. Though some might insist Samuel adapts too easily, anyone who knows a single parent household with a latchkey child will realize he struggles with monumental personal changes from care free child to responsible young adult.