As Andy’s mother struggles to reconnect with him, his Uncle Rip returns transformed from a stint in prison and wants to be a mentor to the reclusive boy, doing everything he can to help end Andy’s pain. When Andy begins hearing strange music through his iPod and making near-prophetic announcements, Rip is convinced that what Andy is hearing is the voice of God.
Elsewhere, police officer Heather Gerisch responds to a late-night breaking and entering in one of the poorest homes in town. She soon realizes that the masked prowler has left thousands of dollars in gift cards from a local grocery store.
As the bizarre break-ins continue and Heather pursues the elusive “Summer Santa,” Andy and Rip discover an enormous and well-kept garden of wildflowers that seems to have grown overnight at an abandoned steel mill. Soon, they realize who the gardener is, and a spree of miracles transfigures this small town from a place of hopelessness into a place of healing and beauty.
I requested to review this book because the description appealed to me – I enjoy reading unique points-of-view, and there aren’t a lot of opportunities to read a teen boy’s POV in an adult novel. I’m also a fan of the supernatural, so the above blurb grabbed my attention. The writing, unfortunately, couldn’t hold it.
While the proposed story line appealed to me, I struggled to read this book. As early as the first chapter, the author interrupts the plot with large sections of information (not all of it necessary). While some of the info is helpful to fill in some back story, most of the time it merely stalled the action to give information. Honestly: I started skimming pages within the first couple of chapters. That made it hard to connect with the characters, but I didn’t want to read five pages of writing to glean three paragraphs of character development. Instead, I found myself skipping large sections until I flipped to the back to read the last couple of chapters to see how it ended.
In Mr. Sirls defense, this is an often-used writing style, though I’m not a fan of it. I prefer to read less about the history of the houses on the streets and more about the characters and their motivations. If you enjoy stories laced with fictional history, you will most likely enjoy this novel.
*I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review. These opinions are my own.