I enjoy a good story and especially love finding one that weaves the Catholic faith through it. The Priest and the Peaches most definitely does this with a story that could appeal to those who enjoy young adult books.
The story is set in the mid-1960s just after Christmas. All but the older Peach child is frantic with worry as their father is in extreme agony on the floor and they are trying to find a way to get him to the hospital for help. A neighbor is able to take him and the teenaged daughter is sent home to wait for a call. Their eldest brother arrives home after work to find out what transpired and then rushes to the hospital to assess the situation. It isn’t good, but he wants to believe that their dad will pull through. His strong emotions coupled with seeing a tube pumping out the contents of his dad’s stomach compels him to leave and find a drink rather than stay with his father. There’s a definite irony in that decision as intense drinking is what led to his dad’s acute condition. And, it is the last time any of the Peach children will see their father alive.
As if losing their father during the Christmas season, the reader learns that the children are now orphans as both their mother and grandmother are deceased. Fear and confusion plaque not only the Peach children, but many of the adults around them. One exception is Father Sullivan, a beloved priest from their neighborhood parish.
With just around 200 pages, this YA novel packs a lot into the story. You are able to get a good sense of each Peach child’s personality and the personalities of many adults in their lives. You can also feel the anguish and fear experienced by many as the story will allow for streams of consciousness to be heard. Even though the overall plot deals with a sad topic (losing the last parent and having no other family to care for you), Mr. Peterson interjects plenty of occasion for humor. Who wouldn’t find a fake leg floating above the crowd at a wake on New Year’s Eve to be worthy of at least a smirk? Or, having two young boys that are sick decide to act like Batman and Robin ending with a broken bed and a flooded apartment?
In a matter of a few short days, the Peach family and many of the people around them begin to experience change for the better. The eldest son begins to learn how drastically his life is changing as the new ‘man of the house’ and all that the responsibility brings. And, a rather nosy neighbor that they see as out to get them, has her own life transforming event as different pieces of the puzzle come together to allow the Peach family to continue as one.
I have to say that this book was quite enjoyable on many levels. Seeing how God’s Hand was present throughout the trials experienced by the Peach family was fantastic. I believe we often miss those little miracles in our lives, possibly just writing them off to ‘chance.’ But, through the conversations and strings of consciousness for the characters, you can fully appreciate just how well God will take care of us so long as we are willing to accept it.
And, as I mentioned at the beginning, this title does an excellent job of weaving different aspects of the Catholic faith throughout the story. Mr. Peterson does not write any of it to be especially ‘preachy’ although most of the catechesis does come from Father Sullivan. However, reflections by the children and his friends show that Mr. Peach was a man of faith who coined the term “LYN” coupled with a hand signal to remind people to love their neighbor as Christ called us to do.
I highly recommend this title for children (old enough to handle the situation of death) and adults alike. You’ll be in for a romp of a good time as well as feeling a sense of security in knowing that God is always present, even in the dark times. And, I’ll be anxiously awaiting the sequel that is currently being written.
You can purchase The Priest and the Peaches in a variety of formats. At the moment, it is only in digital format. So, if you do not have an eReader, you’ll need an app for your computer to read it.
About the Author:
Larry Peterson was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. A former Metal Lather/Reinforcing Iron-worker, he left that business after coming down with MS. He, his wife and three kids moved to Florida 30 years ago. Larry began doing freelance newspaper commentary after graduating from Tampa College in 1984.
His first children’s picture book, Slippery Willie’s Stupid, Ugly Shoes was published in 2011. In 2012, his full length novel, The Priest and the Peaches was released and he is presently working on the sequel.
He also has a blog (http://www.ThePriestandthePeaches.com) where he posts weekly commentary. He lives in Pinellas Park, Florida and his kids and six grandchildren all live within three miles of each other.
Disclaimer ~ I was provided with a digital copy of the book for the expressed task of doing a review as part of this tour with Tribute Books. No monetary compensation occurred and all opinions are my own. Click the tour banner above to see the list of all blogs participating and see what everyone else thought about this title.