4 out of 4 stars
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How far will you go to protect what you believe in? This is the question every reader will find asking themselves as they read Always Before Me by John Servant. It is a story of faith, mercy, courage and betrayal. The book is based on the lives of two Catholic priests who die in prison, albeit, in very different circumstances. Father Paul was jailed for protecting his priestly vows; Father Anthony was assigned prison chaplaincy after losing his teaching job.
In the small room allocated for Father Anthony's wake at the prison, enters John, his estranged nephew and beneficiary. The only other person in attendance is Father Richard, an old acquaintance of the deceased. John learns from Father Richard how his estranged uncle had been falsely accused of making sexual advances by a girl he had taught. Due to the seriousness of the accusation, Father Anthony could no longer secure a teaching job afterwards, which is how he ended up working in prison. He struggled with the circumstances thrusted upon him. However,upon seeing Father Paul's bravery and faith, he ended up accepting his fate found himself as his cross to bear in this life.
Father Paul's journey to prison was quite dramatic. In court, he refused to reveal the confession of a criminal, nicknamed Blood, who was charged with double murder. Citing priest-penitent privilege, Father Paul refused to break his vows, which led in the accused being set free. This commitment to his priestly vows so infuriated the district attorney, that he made it his mission to make Father Paul pay. A subsequent donation by Blood to Father Paul's church, without the priest's knowledge, led to a corruption charge being layed against Father Paul, his prosecution, and sentencing to a prison term. Yet, Father Paul never wavered. The one close friend he made in prison, Gus, who ended up being wrongly influenced and turning against Father Paul.
Always Before Me carries a message of integrity, surviving extreme unfairness, and, faith in God. Though not Catholic myself, I did not find anything offensive in the Catholic theme of the book. The message is clear, the book well and simply written with negligible errors. It earns a rating of 4 out of 4stars.
There is nothing negative I can say about the book. Since I don't normally read religious books, I was pleasantly surprised by how enthralling I found this one to be. I recommend it for everyone over the age of thirteen.
Always Before Me
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