The issues of betrayal and redemption, selfishness and sacrifice come alive in John Herrick’s From the Dead. When Jesse Barlow left home for Hollywood at 18, he went looking for an exciting future. Eleven years later, he can’t land acting gigs and lives with a superficial girlfriend. His attempts to find satisfaction continue to fail until desperation leads him to take a lethal dose of medicine. After barely surviving, Jesse needs to start over and knows of only one option: to return to his Ohio home and those he left behind, including his preacher father, his sister, his first love, and a son he doesn’t yet know exists. After years of superficial pursuits, can Jesse find the love he craves and become a man others respect?
Herrick expertly develops his characters and places them in realistic surroundings. Over the course of the story, Jesse undergoes an amazing amount of change but somehow each scene is consistent with the last. Although I found some of the writing unpolished and the ending unconventional, the descriptions and characters work well. Herrick brings every location, from a Hollywood flat to an Ohio hilltop, to life. Furthermore, the story deals with themes worth thinking about. The novel delves deeply into male-female, father-son, and total family relationships, but ultimately it centers on the redemption found in the love and sacrifice of Jesus.
In writing a realistic story, Herrick does not shy away from the darker material in Jesse’s life. The book is titled ,em>From the Dead, and it clearly depicts the death-laden life which drives Jesse to attempt suicide. Some of the characters curse, including using the “f” word nearly ten times. There is also drug and alcohol use, fairly explicit and suggestive sexual scenes, a suicide attempt, and a near abortion. These aspects of the book lend reality to the novel, but are not appropriate for young readers.
From the Dead is a realistic, dramatic, contemporary novel. Readers who are looking for a romantic story will enjoy Herrick’s down-to-earth yet poignant approach to loving relationships. Readers who appreciate character-driven stories will notice the careful development and the family dynamics. Readers who like coming-of-age stories will find an eloquent story of a man finally facing the big questions of life. I recommend this to women and men who are old enough to handle the heavy content and who are looking for a thoughtful portrayal of life. – Kristina Charles, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
A preacher’s son. A father in hiding. A guilty heart filled with secrets. When Jesse Barlow escaped to Hollywood at age eighteen, he hungered for freedom, fame and fortune. Eleven years later, his track record of failure results in a drug-induced suicide attempt. Revived at death’s doorstep, Jesse returns to his Ohio hometown to make amends with his preacher father, a former love, and Jesse’s own secret son. But Jesse’s renewed commitment becomes a baptism by fire when his son’s advanced illness calls for a sacrifice—one that could cost Jesse the very life he regained. A story of mercy, hope, and second chances, From The Dead captures the human spirit with tragedy and joy.