The redemption story has been told several times in the stories I've read, but this is a work that really does a good job with it (of those which I've read, one of the few). The plot works along; the flashback device works out well; there are hints here and there, and while some of it might be obvious, there are some pieces that you only put together after you continue to read the story. Really well done in that regard. The author took care to use the setting only as much as was required in order to make the story work; there wasn't an excess of reference or an excess of description or elaboration where it wasn't required, which was nice. The reuse of northwestern Ohio wasn't heavy-handed, and the author still managed to make the place have its own bit of charm to it. These are people, not just characters. Some of the characters do have some flatness issues (Becky was a bit flat, but she also wasn't a principal, so it's forgiveable). These are people with tragic, real backgrounds. While some of it felt a bit heavy-handed at first, it all actually came to a head as feeling like it was something that was plausible, which was very remarkable. I think Justin's turn was sudden, but at the same time, he had been in a rut for twelve years; people can just turn their lives around abruptly one day; it's what makes humanity so unique. Well done. Smooth and easy to read, interesting, doesn't talk down or feel rough. A really enjoyable, smooth style of writing. Dialogue particularly feels very organic. Recommended for consideration for an award.
Justin's Season by S.M. Sawyer
Paperback: 460 pages
Publisher: NineStar Press (August 6, 2016)
Amazon: Justin's Season
Amazon Kindle: Justin's Season
The year is 1988, and Justin Davis, a former nationally recruited football prep star, awakens from twelve years of masking his shame with drugs and alcohol to find he has been returned to his former self through what can only be described as a miracle. Triggered by the confirmation of his closely guarded sexual orientation, his fall from grace of over a decade before sets the stage for his redemption. The fulfillment of his destiny is prompted by Providence and the serendipitous deeds of those who are a part of his new life, as their intertwined lives are likewise impacted. Though his rapid evolvement and acceptance of his homosexuality is countered by setbacks, Justin perseveres and eventually triumphs as fate, he believes, has led him back to the sports arena to recapture past glories. In a stunning finale, however, he learns his destiny is not what he had envisioned. His calling has been thrust upon him by circumstances beyond his control. Can Justin embrace it and become the man he was always meant to be?
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