Review of Always Before Me

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Joyce Atundz
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Latest Review: Always Before Me by John Servant

Review of Always Before Me

Post by Joyce Atundz »

[Following is a volunteer review of "Always Before Me" by John Servant.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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Always Before Me is a fictional book by author John Servant. This book is about the trials and tribulations of one man, Father Anthony and how his outlook in life was influenced by a prisoner, Father Paul and Father Anthony in turn touched the life of another man, Matt Ryan.

The story is set up in a New York prison and is narrated by Father Richard who is attending a wake for Father Anthony. The writer begins with a flashback of Father Paul’s stabbing in prison then brings us back to Father Richard attending the wake of Father Anthony while remembering Father Paul, Father Anthony’s friend. At the wake Father Richard met John Dylan who had come to collect his inheritance from his uncle, Father Anthony after being invited to the wake by Matt Ryan, a good friend of Father Anthony. John is young and is portrayed as worldly and arrogant, he had little knowledge of his uncle and deemed him to be lowly because his wake did not have many mourners like his father’s. Having Father Richard wanted to set the record straight concerning Father Anthony’s life.

In his younger days before ending up in prison as a chaplain, Father Anthony was a teacher. As any man, he had advances from an attractive girl in a class he taught which he vehemently rejected and as the saying goes, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, the girl falsely accused Father Anthony of sexual advances which led to a suspension and accusations against him. He was rejected by the priesthood and the school, all which he took in silence. Matt Ryan was a psychology teacher at upstate New York and was accused of seeking sexual advances in exchange for grades that got him suspended, the accusations took a toll on his marriage and his wife left him and he lost his job. He finally got a job at the prison which was the only place he could teach and there he met and became friends with Father Anthony, a man who had somehow walked in his shoes. All this was in God’s special plan.

Father Paul was an assistant priest at St. Anne’s for mother of the Great Mother of God. He one day received a confession from a young man called Blood who had killed a policeman and his wife. That confession would change the life of Father Paul forever. Blood and his gang got caught and somehow Father Paul got implicated too. On interrogation, Father Paul held fast to the confession seal and did not disclose Blood’s confession, holding fast to God’s laws and fearing Him only. This put him in the wrong books with the cops who could not let their colleague’s death go unpunished and they together with the public prosecutor would use any means necessary to ensure someone paid for the deaths and serve as an example. Father Paul was the fall guy and he ended up in prison with a twenty-year sentence, but in prison, he would later face his death plotted by a gang leader who did not want to lose his control over other inmates.

The good thing about this book is how these priests would remain silent and humble under immense accusations and rejection. They chose to see the good in every situation and trust in God to be with them in circumstances that another person would vehemently defend their innocence. Their practical application of their faith was a testimony to others and in at the end of it all, people believed. John Servant was able to make the me connect with the main characters and be slow to anger or react.

The book started with Father Richard talking to John Daly, but along the way these characters seem to have disappeared. I would have liked to know what was John’s reaction to the narration. Did it give him a different perspective to life?

I would rate this book 4 out of 4 stars because the humility of the Fathers and how they took their suffering really fascinated me and I couldn’t wait to find out what was next. I did not find any grammatical errors indicating that proper editing was done. I recommend this book to lovers of Christian fiction books and those who would like books that have some sense of realism.

Always Before Me
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