Author: John Herrick
Publisher: Segue Blue
Release Date: August 31, 2010
My Source: Accepted from author
A preacher's son, a father in hiding, a guilty heart filled with secrets: When Jesse Barlow escaped to Hollywood, he hungered for fame--but eleven years of failure result 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 sacrifice--one that could cost Jesse the very life he regained. A story of mercy, hope, and second chances, From The Dead captures the human spirit with tragedy and joy.
This is not the type of book I typically read. It's not Young Adult, but when I recieved a pitch to review it from the author, I was immediately drawn in by the summary. I felt like I just had to read it. And I am so glad I did! This book was so good, I think more people should know about it and read it.
The first third of the book focuses around Jesse's life in California that slowly spirals into awful desolation. He left home at 18, eleven years ago, but has failed to make it as an actor. The Hollywood section of the book was my least favorite part- I understand it was needed to set the stage of Jesse's life, but it was very long, and sort of boring and hard to get through.
Once I got to the part where Jesse returns home, I started tearing through the pages, unable to stop, it was so good. The relationships were so well built, characters fleshed out, and tensions very real. It's the story of the prodigal son, returning to his preacher father, and comfronting trials he never knew he left behind- namely, the son he never knew he had.
I was really surprised by the relationship between Jesse and his son Drew. So many moments made me smile, and the whole thing was so genuine. I loved the parts where they were together, it was just beautiful. Jesse's sister Eden was another great character who I really could connect with, and I loved their sibling relationship. And Chuck, Jesse's father, was pretty cool too.
I could analyze this book from a Christian fiction perspective, but I wouldn't classify From the Dead as Christian fiction. Sure, there were Christian themes, but this book wasn't preachy, and author John Herrick was certainly not afraid to portray the world as it is- in all the very awful detail. There is plenty of language and some situations that would not be portrayed in the same way in typical Christian fiction, paticularly in the Hollywood section of the book. For this reason, I would only recommend this book to older teens and adults. Having said that, even though this was an adult book, I think older teenagers would enjoy it, as I certainly did.
The writing itself wasn't anything spectacular, but it was fairly what I was expected. But the ending had me hanging on the edge the whole time. Very nice suspense.
Overall, if you're into books with great characters, realistic life portrayals, and adult contemporary fiction, this is a book you have to read. The only other book I've read that it reminded me of was My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult- if you liked that, you'll probably like this one; there were similar themes. Not 5 stars because of the slow first part and excessive strong language with I'm not a huge fan of, but still 4 stars because of the fantastic second part.
4 out of 5 stars