My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Well, first let me say I will not make the mistake of rating Flannery O’Connor four stars again. She is a five star worthy author, that much is clear. From both the quality of her writing and also the amount of kickback I received when I rated her book, Wise Blood, only four stars!
Flannery O’Connor is an extraordinary writer. She is one of the few people who can write a story in which all of the characters can be disliked and yet still tell a story worth reading. This book is about a young boy who is kidnapped by his great uncle, who believes himself to be a prophet, so that he can baptize and raise the boy as the prophet who will continue his own work. The boy struggles with whether to recognize he has been called to be a prophet and to obey the call, or to accept that his great uncle was a nutter and get on with his life. He has only the memory of his great uncle to convince him of the former (and any signs from God), but has the impact of his conscience and his uncle pushing him toward the latter.
O’Connor’s stories (at least the few with which I am familiar) tend to not have happy or even resolved endings. If they do, the resolution is quite subtle. I think this is her way of reminding us that we are waiting for the ultimate and total rule of heaven to break into our world, and until it does, life will be dissatisfying–at least insofar as getting answers and justice.
I think this is one of the books that will probably have to be read two or three times. I think there are foreshadowings earlier in the story that I missed, but that I would catch on a second reading. Any Flannery O’Connor–this book or any other–is worth the read.
As one Presbyterian pastor friend of mine once said, “If I converted to Catholicism, it would be because of their literature–not their doctrine.”