This was a book I came across at the library, tucked unobtrusively between two bright fancy looking books. Comparatively, this novel drew me in little on first appearance, with muted colors and a simple pair of shoes on the cover. But the back intrigued me, and I decided to give it a shot.
This book is told from the teenage perspective of Matthew Collins, who is a high school cross-country runner in the early 1960's. He was raised Christian, and for a time, felt that going into preaching was his calling. Yet his feelings change dramatically after the death of his father, which shakes both his dedication to his running as well as his feelings for God.
To make matters worse, a new family moves in next door, and their son, Wade, is determined to make Matt his best friend. Wade has cerebral-palsy and the time Matt is forced to spend with him makes him the butt of many jokes from the people he once called friends.
Wade's character is delightfully written, complete with a stutter, an obsession with the Civil War general he was named for, and a knack for getting into trouble with school bullies. Through the reluctant friendship which develops between the boys over the school year, Matt begins to learn that while God may allow tragedy, He will never leave us alone.
This book is truthfully written, with no hiding from the harshness of how judgmental and mean kids can be towards each other. It also really deals well with the challenge the evils of the world really do pose for believers in God, the difficulty of justifying a loving God with tragedy and pain here on earth.
Overall, this was a good read. I really appreciated the truthfulness of the characters and the realness of the lives shaped and reshaped through out the novel. I'd recommend this for a quick summer read. It's not exactly a light read, but the characters are delightful and deal with a lot of real-life issues head on.