3 out of 4 stars
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Wesley Aames had his work cut out for him from the start. He’s a young, inexperienced preacher taking over the pastoral duties of New Covenant, an ever-dwindling church that isn’t too keen on change. Wesley has to wrangle the congregation, the committees, the former pastor – and then, suddenly, a teen suicide. Sixteen-year-old Jamie Lee McFarland is dead, and her mother, Rosa Lee, is worryingly unmoved. Worse yet, she may be partially responsible for the tragic death. With the congregation in uproar about Rosa’s callous attitude, Wesley is pulled in a million different ways at once. He must struggle between what the community wants and what he knows is right – between what the church wants and what the church needs.
Anthony Andre’s A Good Boy is a sweet and uplifting piece of literary fiction, and I rate it 3 out of 4 stars.
At its core, this book is about a good person doing good things. It’s as simple as that. I fell in love with Wesley instantly. He’s not a perfect goody-two-shoes by any means – he has his flaws, his skeletons in the closet – but he’s the kind of person I would want to have lunch with. I loved reading about the way he approached the obstacles placed in front of him: with endless compassion and an earnest willingness to work hard. A Good Boy was an easy read, and by that I mean that I didn’t have to worry about anyone, hate anyone, bite my nails over anyone… I could just sit back and enjoy the feel-good storyline. It’s the book equivalent of a Hallmark movie, and I was happy to curl up with it over a chilly evening.
I had some brief misgivings about the church setting. I’m not religious at all, and I was worried that things would get preachy and I’d get sick of it. Not even close! A Good Boy is definitely spiritual, but it doesn’t push a religion or a doctrine. Its message is of acceptance and compassion, and that transcends religion. Even the preacher himself isn’t preachy – Wesley likes his beer and has been known to cuss occasionally. When a local firefighter is killed in the line of duty and his own church refuses to hold his funeral simply because they found out he was gay, Wesley is the one to step in and give the man a proper service at New Covenant. Wesley and his church felt genuine, and that was really refreshing for me.
So, why only three stars? My main issue was that some of the twists in the plot came out of nowhere, and not in a good way. I don’t think there was enough foreshadowing, and it made the novel feel almost episodic. Laying more of a foundation for those reveals earlier in the book would have made the story more cohesive.
In addition, there were some unfortunate typos throughout the book that distracted from the story – most notably when Jamie Lee’s name changed to Jamie Lynn for a minute. Not to mention the number of Lees there were to keep track of! No fewer than four characters had Lee as their middle or last name. It was more humorous to me than anything, but there’s really no reason for that much repetition.
With those complaints in mind, I still wholeheartedly recommend A Good Boy to anyone, Christian or otherwise, who wants to lose themselves in an uplifting, feel-good story. The world could use more good boys like Wesley.
A Good Boy
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