Saturday, 31 October 2009

Homeless like me by Donald Parker: Review

Homeless Like Me is a novel/e-book published by Sword of the Spirit Publications, a small Christian publishing house set up by the author and a few others interested in spreading the word of God. I was approached by Donald through Book Blogs and invited to review one of his books.

Homeless Like Me has taken inspiration from the international bestseller Black Like Me, written by John Howard Griffin, a white man who posed as an African American for six weeks travelling through the more racially segregated areas of America in the late 1950's.

Although Homeless has taken its cue from Black Like Me, it has gone off on a very different pathway. Brian, the protagonist, is a guy interested in making a quick fortune by writing a book about what it is like to be homeless. As part of his research he visits the local homeless shelter posing as one of those down on their luck but things get hairy when he is busted by Zeke, a big bear-like man who doesn't take kindly to Brian's covert mission. However, they soon find that each has something that the other needs and an uneasy friendship is formed and their journey takes them to some very unexpected places, both physically and metaphysically.

This book contains a lot of different strong themes: homelessness, homosexuality, Christianity and the global economic crisis - which makes the 200 odd pages seem very crowded and a little confused in places. In the first half of the book, I felt that the narrative relied too heavily on character dialogue, mainly between Brian and Zeke, but the flow improved greatly in the second half.

As readers, we join Brian and Zeke, two non-believers as they struggle with their skepticism about God and religion in general. The spiritual struggle that they go through, Brian's in particular, was very effective and realistically mirrors a lot of people's internal conflict about God. With the help of Brian's love interest Angel and the perceptive Soaring Eagle, Brian and Zeke eventually resolve their own struggles and take on the struggles of others.

Being not of the Christian faith myself, I have to admit that at times I found this a highly challenging read. The evangelical religious content of this book is very clear and holds no punches - something not often found on the bookshelves of your local bookstore.

The mission of Sword of the Spirit publications is, according to their website:
to distribute uplifting, inspirational, exhortational and
challenging literature, both fiction and nonfiction, that will help
non-believers understand and embrace Jesus and solidify the faith of
the believers and aid them in the quest to live a Godly lifestyle.
I think this book meets that mission with (spiritual) guns blazing through this interesting and compelling story.

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