I just finished reading as wide as the sky by an author I’ve not come across before– Jessica Pack. The book has an interesting premise: there are short chapters from the viewpoint of different characters, some central to the plot, others peripheral. Each chapter begins, not with a date, but with the number of days, years or hours after a particular date –an event that caused the character to “restart” their life because something monumental had changed.
For the main character, Amanda, the reset button is pushed on the day her son is executed for killing nine people in a shopping mall. We journey along with her as her new life without her child begins. On the way, we meet others who have been affected by Amanda or her son Robbie. We learn that people are complicated, and nobody should be judged solely by the worst thing they have ever done.
It left me pondering what moments were turning points in my own life. It addresses many interesting ethical questions such as:
- Can/should we forgive someone who has committed a terrible crime of violence?
- Is capital punishment an appropriate punishment when the offender is mentally ill?
- How do we maintain a balance between work and our home life?
- How do we, as parents, maintain a balance between the needs of our children?
- How should we care for our aging parents?
- How much responsibility should we have for the actions of our family members?
A number of the characters are portrayed as Christian. There was no inappropriate language (what a relief). These elements, and the type of themes included left me wondering if the author is a Christian. I contacted her, and she is. So this book may never show up as “Christian” on any book list you find, but in my mind it is. It promotes Christian values in an appealing way that will influence many. I look forward to reading more books by this author.
VERDICT: 5 stars. It’s an enjoyable and thought provoking read. It would be great for a book club.
For a review of a similar book, visit this post: