Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Priest and the Peaches, by Larry Peterson


The Peach kids have not had it easy these last few years.  They lost their mother, which left them in the care of the grandmother and their father.  When their grandmother also dies, their father is left taking care of the family.  The hours he does not spend working to support his kids, he spends drinking to forget his heartbreak.  When he also gets sick and dies, the kids are left to fend for themselves.  Thank goodness they encounter plenty of divine intervention.

From the beginning, I had a very hard time connecting with this book.  I absolutely adored the setting of 1960's Brooklyn, but I felt as though the setting could have been better described, to help create a richer storyworld.  Also, I had a hard time connecting to the characters.  While the back story of the Peach family is well explained, the characters themselves just did not connect with me.  I think in a Brooklyn neighborhood such as theirs, ethnicity would have played a stronger part of family identity, so the fact that this was not at all described kind of puzzled me.  The family's religious identity was well described, but I would have better connected had I been able to think of this as an Italian Catholic or and Irish Catholic family.  It would have filled in a lot of blanks about their identities.  Perhaps this was discussed and I just did not pick up on it.

The story moves pretty quickly, with the now orphaned children encountering bad luck and road blocks pretty much at every turn.  I liked the story, and thought it quite sweet.  I particularly liked the portrayal of the family's Catholic faith.  The theme of love your neighbor is certainly one that we could stand to see more of in the world, so I greatly appreciate that being portrayed in the book.  It also stressed not to judge people based on your impression.  We are given the impression that Mr. Peach is just a drunk, when really, despite his drinking problem, he was a good Christian who had a huge impact on his community.

All in all I did enjoy the book, I just wish I could have felt a little more connected to it.

I received a review copy courtesy of the publisher as part of a book tour.



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