4 out of 4 stars
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“To err is human, to forgive is divine” (Alexander Pope.) Shawn had no trouble admitting his humanity and his many failings. His difficulty came with the divine part of the deal. How could he forgive the man who had killed his father? The Importance of Now, an other-fiction novel by Paul Schumacher, explored the themes of family, forgiveness, and faith.
Shawn felt the burden of his father’s death. He was only fourteen when it happened, and it impacted his life and future. Overwhelmed by rage, Shawn took out his anger on an innocent bystander. After serving his time in a boys’ home, he returned home to remake his life. Pastor Mike invited him to mentor a group of teenage boys. Uncertain of his abilities to counsel the youths, he opened up about his past and the consequences of letting resentment grow in his heart. His new beginning also opened the door to a new love.
Aidan is Shawn's son. Aidan didn’t know much about his father. He discovered a box of letters in the attic. Against his mother’s wishes, he began reading the correspondence and the police reports that had collected dust over the years. Would the truth about his father soothe the ache in his heart or sharpen the pain of his absence?
The chapters alternated between Aidan in the present reading the letters and Shawn’s life in the past. Shawn’s character developed as the author revealed the events that shaped his attitude and actions. Aidan matured as he learned more about his father and why his mother hid these facts from him. I enjoyed this manner of piecing together the story from the dual perspective of father and son. Aidan learned about his father’s mistakes and how Pastor Mike had guided his thoughts and attitudes toward confronting his anger.
Pastor Mike initiated the mentoring sessions with biblical messages. The speeches that impacted Shawn the most were the talks based on the biblical commandments. Readers will encounter numerous Bible passages and the advantages of applying these principles to their life. Readers familiar with the biblical commandments and Scriptures will find it easy to relate to Pastor Mike’s focus.
I found very little to dislike about this book. My only suggestion would be to include a small family tree to avoid confusion as the story shifts between Shawn and Aidan’s telling of the narrative. The book has neither profanity nor sexual content. I only came across a few grammar errors, leading me to conclude that the book has been professionally edited.
I rate The Importance of Now four out of four stars. The author captivates readers with a story of how anger imprisons us when it is not dealt with quickly. This wholesome story and satisfying ending will intrigue adults who enjoy novels about family and faith. Teen readers can relate to the characters in the youth group. "To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that prisoner was you" (Lewis B. Smedes, p. 8)
The Importance of Now
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