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Whew! This one is something else, but I really liked it.
Crick is a troubled nine-year-old skipping Sunday school and traversing the neighborhood when he happens upon a ranch called The Pulpit – and on that ranch he meets Deacon, a 14-year-old rancher’s son and that’s when things get interesting.
What I liked: It’s so long! It’s like 325 pages of rollercoaster emotions, mistakes, and abiding love. What’s not to like about that? Crick loves Deacon the moment he sees him and Deacon takes Crick under his wing and loves him so much that he’s willing to set his life on edge to make things better for him, which fuels this story. Crick’s insecurities abound and I love a vulnerable, insecure hero who finds his way in life, which is what happens for Crick throughout this story. There was also a cast of engaging characters who really helped to make 320+ pages fly by.
What I didn’t like: The drama! Well, I loved the drama, but I also had some very specific times when I hated the drama. I mean, there is enough drama in this book for four novels. The normal plot arc is twerked and repeated 3-4 times in this story, which is understandable as it spans the course of more than a decade in the lives of Crick and Deacon. But there’s sickness, stupidity that makes you want to toss your eBook reader on to the ground or shake the characters, and there are mistakes (the collossal, pack-your-bags-and-get-out-of-my-house kind) and misunderstandings galore. These help to move the story along, of course, but the angst goes up like two notches beyond the normally acceptable level. It even got to a point where I had to take a moment to examine how I really felt about the characters, their roles shifted and twisted so much. Normally, I know how I feel about a character after the first few pages – or chapter, at least. In this one, those feelings mutated, transformed, shed their skin and then evolved.
These characters take a real beating and, subsequently, so does the reader. I mean, just when I was getting over the floods and the sickness, a horse dying and IED explosions, entirely different obstacles popped up and took center stage.
Also, a major squick for me is infidelity between characters…which happens in this story. It is not subtle. It is stark and it happens and then the characters move on, even while I hadn’t necessarily moved on.
Overall: This is not fluff, or a fantasy, idealized version of love between two men on a ranch. This is gritty, hard-knuckled love full of mistakes, angst and drama. So, be prepared going in. But go in. I mean, it’s different. It’s gripping and it’s well worth the read by anyone who loves books in this genre.
Jaya Grade: A-
For, more from the author visit Amy’s Blog!