The Priest and the Peaches
by Larry Peterson
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pops and his five kids are in trouble. Motherless for several years and suffering without her care, they are limping through life in the 1960’s. Pops turned to drinking to ease his sorrow at losing his love, with dire consequences. Upon Pops death from the poisonous drink, the five children, led by eighteen-year-old Teddy and seventeen-year-old Joanie, must navigate the adult world. With sometimes hilarious trouble and catastrophe, they manage the funeral and the many responsibilities that fall on their shoulders. Watching over them is Father Sullivan, a true priest and manly man, who guides and protects the children in their struggles.
The Priest and the Peaches was heartwarming. Written in a reminiscing style, it felt as if the author was speaking of his own family and neighborhood. Each character was written with care, and their deep feelings came out through their journey. The Peach children faced their trials valiantly and with an uncommon maturity.
I really enjoyed the themes of redemption and forgiveness. Every character wronged someone, and the wrongs were all addressed in light of the theme “LYN” or “love your neighbor”. The character of Father Sullivan portrayed a priest who was truly committed to his responsibilities, leading and guiding his community. Father Sullivan understood the real purpose of scripture and the church, which was refreshing in a literary world where the clergy are the villains.
The few problems in the book were a frequency of editing errors and an occasional tendency to ramble off into reminiscence that didn’t really fit with the story. Also probably the most important problem was that the beginning of the book was a bewildering whirlwind of names and nicknames, wrapped up in action that I wasn’t able to follow because I was still wondering who it was talking about. I didn’t really feel like I was able to know any characters until the second or third chapter. If I had sampled this book for my own entertainment without the commitment to finish and review it, I probably wouldn’t have persevered past the first few pages.
Once I fought through the beginning, though, I really needed to know what was going to happen to these poor kids, and how God was going to get them out of the next scrape. I cried several times at the touching moments of compassion and sacrifice. (That kind of thing always makes me cry!) Being a Protestant who doesn’t love liturgy and ritual, I winced a little at the rigors of the Catholic services, but I loved the way the author brought out Jesus in them. The salvation message was the center of the theme and the way the flawed characters and their foibles fit into the Gospel was beautiful to see.
I really loved this story of joy in the presence of trials and recommend it to all ages.