I recently finished the new novel by Bill Kassel called This side of Jordan and I found it to be both an entertaining and informative read. Some aspects of it are as a mystery novel, but that is not the main thrust. The book starts with an incident in a small town and then goes back to pick up the threads of what lead to it. The novel’s plot revolves around a festival the town is putting together to to promote tourism and around the famous director they bring in to pull it off. The main character is a Catholic musician who does the music for the local Catholic church and is writing the music for the festival. Interesting enough one of the plot threads is on homosexuality and how the main character and the town priest pastorally deals with the issue. The priest in the novel is old school and accurately reflects Catholic teaching. In fact the whole novel addresses the Church’s teaching on homosexuality and dealing with those same-sex attraction. Though the book does not just fall into sermonizing or hitting you over the head like a Bud McFarlane Jr. novel. The characterization is very good and the novel is more about people than just events. Along the way there are also some great jabs on modern liturgy and some other insightful comments come the way via the priest and the nun who is in charge of religious education in the parish. While this nun is of the modernist persuasion she is not treated as a stereotype and while there is tension between her and the priest there is also a grudging appreciation of each others talents.
Truth in blogging disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book from Company Publications, Inc. One benefit of blogging is on occasion I have been sent copies of books for review
and to feed my addiction. So far I haven’t been sent any books that I would not recommend and I have been sent some real gems that I might otherwise have never read. Now if only I could get on Ignatius Press’s reviewer list I would be in book heaven.