Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Review of Motherless by Brian Gail

Oh, my poor neglected blog, it has been a LONG time! I'm really going to try to get back into the blogging thing, both with some book reviews and with a photo-a-day project for 2011. Ambitious, I know, but we'll see how it goes.

Let me kick off this posting revival with a review of Motherless by Brian Gail.

Motherless is a sequel to Brian Gail's premiere novel Fatherless and is part 2 in his The American Tragedy in Trilogy.  After hearing endless positive reviews about Fatherless, I fell in love with the world that Brian Gail created. Needless to say, when I got the opportunity to receive a copy of Motherless for review, I jumped at the chance, only hoping that Gail could capture the magic again. He didn't disappoint!

While Fatherless was set in Philadelphia in the late 20th Century, Motherless moves forward about 20 years and revisits many of the same characters as they have aged and moved on to different stages in their lives. The captivating characters from Fatherhood are back: Father Sweeney, a priest who encountered a crisis of faith in the previous novel but has grown stronger and more steadfast since, Maggie Kealey, a Catholic woman strong in her faith and values, Joe Delgado, an executive in the pharmaceutical industry who must wrestle between his faith and his career, and Michael Burns, the engaging ad executive who won our hearts in Fatherless for standing up for his beliefs despite the cost. Father Sweeney has grown deeper in his faith and must now struggle with making choices concerning his mother's Alzheimer's Disease and also with providing good and faithful counsel to parishioners who rely on him for guidance. Maggie Kealey's husband left her for another woman 20 years ago, and she picked up the pieces and became a nurse and has since risen through the ranks and has been named the CEO of Regina Hospital in South Philadelphia. Never did she imagine that she'd be immediately tasked with navigating the waters of insuring that her institution is both faithful to Catholic teaching and profitable at the same time. I think that the most interesting parts of this storyline involve Joe Delgado and Michael Burns and their struggles to live their faith despite the pull of society and especially their careers. Delgado is an executive in the pharmaceutical industry and Burns is the head of an advertising agency, and each is asked to ignore his Catholic faith and what he knows is a steadfast position of the Church in order to do his job. Gail does a terrific job of showing the struggles that these men face with their consciences as they try to discern and rationalize their choices.

The focus of Motherless is on in vitro fertilization, cloning, and genetic manipulation, and I think that the genius of Gail's writing is that, while this is a fictional piece, there is much that could very well become our reality. Some of the struggles that Maggie Kealey faces as a new CEO of a Catholic hospital are doctors who prescribe contraceptives and refer patients out for treatments that aren't approved by the Catholic Church--struggles that are mirrored in hospitals and medical practices in reality. The genetic manipulation technologies that are discussed in Motherless are real and the "Big Fix" proposed by Delgado and Burns' bosses is chilling to consider but also not out of the realm of imagination.

Motherless offers one author's imaginings of where these new discoveries and technologies could be leading us, and those imaginings should give us pause as we consider what we are really getting ourselves into. Brian Gail's Motherless is an engaging read with realistic and likable characters. I was very pleased with the development of the story and will encourage others to read it as well. If this review has you intrigued, then check it out for yourself and let me know what you think!

I received this book for review from The Catholic Company. The Catholic Company is also a great source for serenity prayer and baptism gifts.

1 comment:

Renee said...

Can't wait to read it