Montreal was great! The conference was good. And I had lots of time to read!! Yay!! One of the books I got through this week was 'The Cross Gardener' by Jason F. Wright. Here's the review:
On the cover, Don Piper is quoted: "Fresh and spiritual". I would have said: "Predictable and sappy". But that is not necessarily a bad thing as I would have been saying it through the runny nose and streaming tears on the airplane with the other passengers looking at me like I had lost it. 'The Cross Gardener" is an exploration of loss, of grief, and of survival. It is christian fiction and, therefore, also an exploration of spirituality and God's role in the lives of believers and non-believers alike.
Unlike much of the christian literature I have read, 'The Cross Gardener' does not come off as some evangelical preacher's attempt to convert the reader. That doesn't mean that Jason Wright doesn't try and teach the reader - or perhaps better said - lead the reader to an understanding of his own personal beliefs using the novel as a vehicle. He does. But the religious tract does come off as more of an exploration than as Bible thumping.
The novel reminded me very much of 'A Walk to Remember' by Nicholas Sparks. Religious girl meets non-religious boy, they fall in love, their perfect life is torn apart by means beyond their control, life goes on. (there are no spoilers there. That much you could get from the back of the book.) Unlike 'A Walk to Remember', 'The Cross Gardener' follows the events following the tearing apart of the perfect life. I really loved how Mr. Wright focused on men, and especially on fathers and their influence on the lives around them.
Like I said, it is sappy and predictable - it is also lovely and emotional; sweet and naive with no edge. After reading the last page, wipe away the tears, heave a big sigh, smile a little and walk away with a heart that feels just a little lighter - right over to the man in your life and give him a well deserved hug.