The strangest things happen when friends are reunited after twenty years aparta major new novel by the best-selling author of the Sacred Diary series.
If all this sounds like a setup for a predictable romance between David and Angela, you'll be delighted to know that British author Adrian Plass's writing is anything but predictable. He consistently turns away from the obvious plot path, opting instead for less-traveled roads that not only keep the story moving along but also offer far more interesting opportunities for the characters to show themselves for who they are. Each of the former friends who meet at the house for the weekend is a fully developed, fully believable character haunted by his or her personal ghosts. Headly Manor's ghosts may be imaginary, but the ghosts that accompany the reunion guests are all too real.
From the start, you sense that GHOSTS is going to turn out to be a "Christian" book --- God speed the day when we can discard that designation! --- like no other you've read.Read more ›
The worst out of the way first---I'm not sure if I buy some of the plot contrivance: why the five (other than David) accepted an invitation to this reunion, why they would feel at all open to sharing their deepest fears with people they (for the most part) hadn't seen in over a decade. Plass' solution is possible, but it feels as if it were on the fringes of possibility.
His characters and themes, on the other hand, are evidently and powerfully true-to-life for the evangelical Christian, so much so that when I felt myself poking holes in the plot, I told myself to stop---I didn't want to ask those questions of this book. It had too much other truth to tell me.
Adrian Plass is good at naming what goes on in the evangelical, and in this book specifically, what the evangelical is afraid of. We're afraid of death, afraid to find out that the vast majority of people we know are right (there really is no God), afraid that our secrets are too dark for the holiness our God and church demand of us, afraid that our "Christian" persona lies about our insecurities. Plass, as usual (see his other works), goes right ahead and names these fears---the worst is out in the open---then writes grace into the script. The people in the story have to name their worst fear in front of the other people (it's a sort of ice-breaker, go figure). Then the other characters in the story give the fearer love, acceptance, and hope with well-timed, well-chosen words and actions. Because Plass is so right about the fears, I'm ready to believe him when he talks about the grace. In fact, his book is grace, a gift of hope to the people who struggle in the ways that his characters struggle, so in a way, his book proves that what he says is right.
In particular, these characters return to their youth-group reunion bruised by other people, but through the others in this group comes the love that is their hope. That's a vision of the church I could get excited about.