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It’s not an easy thing for an author to share her views about the extraordinary gift that Catholic family life is, or, at least, is meant to be. The number one danger for such art is making the good seem uninteresting, to fasten on to superlatives, to turn drama in paean or very poor pastoral. Too many Catholic writers have been able to do little more than this. It seems like there is this kind of thing, or there is Flannery O’Connor. It’s too bad. I am initiating myself into O’Connor and finding myself rather enjoying her darkness, but I can well imagine that she is not for everyone, particularly not for young readers. So what about their needs?
Sunshine Ranch starts off strong. A young man, Benedict, in foster care gets in trouble at school, only to have his foster mother get into trouble soon after. He and the little girl he lives with have to be moved. He ends us at the titular ranch, and the whole thing suddenly starts to feel a bit campy, almost like a Provident Films movie. Perhaps the fault is mine, since I was city-reared and a ‘ranch’ has all the feel to me of sappy Americana. That feeling doesn’t last too long, though, and Gaouette soon finds her stride and fall into a more natural rhythm.
She is a good writer. In her desire to set a scene she sometimes says too much, nevertheless, she generally has a knack for choosing the right word. The characters all seem to have depth and authenticity and they manage to avoid devolving, on the one hand, into caricature, or, on the other, into meanness. Read more of this review and others at Catholic Review of Books…
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Book Review: The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch -”I laughed, and I cried…very well written”
The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch: Chapter 1
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