Long Way Gone / by Charles Martin. 1.24.2018

Thomas Nelson ISBN 9780718084738

Adult Rating: 5

How is it that the Father draws the prodigal back to Himself? Charles Martin explores this enduring question in Long Way Gone, a story that engages all of a reader’s emotions. As in his other novels, Martin takes the reader deeply into the character’s world–in this case, the musician’s world.

Cooper grows up as the son of a gifted evangelist and guitarist, who teaches Cooper all he knows about music. His dad’s gifts are from the Lord, he believes, and only through giving them away will his heart be satisfied. During a frightening, torrential rain that takes the canvas top off the revival tent, Cooper reveals even greater gifts than his father’s, and the very angels are present to listen. He plays the piano for the crowd, calming fears, but also drawing the attention of sharks who want to sign him to a record label. Misreading his father’s concern that he not be naively taken in for a desire to control him, Cooper steals all their money, his dad’s guitar, and their truck, and takes off for Nashville. Through treachery, he loses all—his success, his fiancée, the songs he wrote for her, his guitar, even his health.

The novel begins in the present time, when after 20 years of living without hope, Cooper is reunited with his love, and begins to consider the possibility of going home. Through flashbacks, the reader learns about his past, his plunge into despair, and how the Lord gradually lifted him up. This isn’t a book one can read without tears; Martin’s storytelling is impeccable, giving life to the prodigal’s story and hammering in the truth that one can always go home. Martin adds an epilogue that describes his intentions for the book and invites the reader, also, to come home to the Lord.

Diane Carver Sekeres, CLJ