BROKEN PIECES OF GOD

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Eddy Kimes, one of the main characters in Seaburn’s tale, is a longtime supervisor for a cable company. Although he’s lived through many changes of company ownership, as the story opens, he’s increasingly worried that this latest pause in work is actually the dreaded L-word: layoff. This problem comes on top of the concern now undergirding his entire life: His wife, Gayle, a tax accountant with a booming business, has recently been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and suddenly she’s requiring medicine, extra care, and chemotherapy. This development brings home their two adult children, Richie and Sandy, who have become almost strangers in the time since they moved out of the family house. “There were Facebook posts and texts and the rare visits, but it was different in ways that he couldn’t put into words,” Eddy reflects. “All he knew was that they had become warm, affable acquaintances, people you enjoyed but didn’t know.” Richie and Sandy are carrying their own baggage. While Eddy is trying to hold the situation together alone (“Sometimes you have to keep things to yourself,” he thinks, “otherwise, everything might crash into a million pieces on the floor”), he’s receiving a surprising amount of support from his visits to the statue of Christ the Consoler at the nearby First Presbyterian Church. At one point in Seaburn’s engaging story, readers are told: “Every person’s suffering is singular, no matter how much we want to believe otherwise.” And yet the tale’s main theme belies this sentiment; the book is a poignant and convincing portrayal of how suffering can be softened by both faith and community. The author’s dramatization of the day-to-day realities of living with cancer is etched with fine details and deep compassion. Without any fanfare, this element of the novel comes to dominate the others, tilting a faith and relationship tale into an illness and coping story that explores powerful emotions.

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