Christine Pountney’s dazzling and original novel, Sweet Jesus, is a work of deep feeling, wit, and piercing observation. Set mainly on Vancouver Island, in Toronto, and in the American Midwest, it tells the story of three siblings who, in the week before the 2012 US Presidential election, reunite and set off on a journey that will transform their lives.
Connie Foster, a mother of three young children, learns that her husband’s attempt to maintain their lifestyle has led them to financial ruin. Her sister, Hannah Crowe, a writer, desperately wants to have a child but the man she loves is determined not to. Zeus Ortega, their much younger adopted brother, who left the family home when he was only fifteen, is living in Chicago with his boyfriend and working as a therapeutic clown in a children’s hospital. Prompted by a heartbreaking loss, he quits his job and decides to search for his birth parents in New Mexico. Together, the three siblings head south and, on the way, they visit a mega church in Wichita, Kansas, where their mother, Rose, once had a powerful faith experience, and where they are confronted by the politics of the evangelical right.
What unfolds is a captivating story about three people bound by family ties and caught between loyalty and desire, searching for wholeness and finding something more real in its place. Achingly human, infused with sparkling intelligence and dark humour, and revealing of our foibles and our grace, Sweet Jesus illuminates how compassion goes a long way in the absence of certainty. Christine Pountney is one of Canada’s most exciting new writers.
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As each character brings the depths of past experience to bear on the present, lessons wrought by maturity bring the emergence of new intimacies between them — a journey from estrangement to deeper understanding. You’ll be glad you went along for the ride.Read Full Review of Sweet Jesus | See more reviews from National Post arts