This highly thought-provoking, sometimes amusing and always life-affirming novel illustrates one family's experiences with America's criminal justice system. As Penelope searches for the truth about her father, she rattles the skeletons in her family's closet and shakes up the complacency of her community, which has tried to sweep the past under the rug. With both perception and compassion, the author creates a colorful cast of characters while challenging the wisdom of imprisoning the mentally ill.
On the cusp of adulthood, Penelope begins to understand that she has grown-up in a web of silence. The denial in her family and small Minnesota hometown is so thick that she does not know how to cut through it, that is, until she begins a seemingly innocuous pen-pal correspondence with someone in another town. Little by little, Penelope unravels the secrets meant to protect her from the truth. She proves herself to be stronger and wiser than anyone could have predicted and leads the way to healing.
In the lives and interactions of the major characters in this story explores the sprawling psychological geography of America's criminal justice system and its profound effect on everyone it touches, even its most ardent proponents. While dealing with a serious, challenging subject, this book is also filled with warmth and likeable characters. The odyssey of Penelope concludes on a faith-affirming note with a parade of surprising revelations.
Hardcover: 350 pages
Author: James Casper
James Casper spent his childhood in a rural Minnesota setting much like the one in this novel. With a master's degree from St. Louis University, he taught English at Bemidji State University and philosophy at Central Lakes College. He also taught extension courses throughout northwestern Minnesota, and for a time served as director of adult education on the Red Lake Indian Reservation. He resides with his wife in Middlesex, England.
An octogenarian bookseller living alone in London has found a description of his father, as a young doctor in 1920s Breslau, in a story about Weimar Germany. Perhaps his own story might be worth telling?
In 1945, as a sixteen-year-old boy rescued from the ruins of Europe, he arrives at a Yorkshire farmhouse. Working on the farm for two years in the strange atmosphere of rural England immediately after World War II, he learns to deal with his memories of what happened to him and to his family and to trust, up to a point, those around him in a foreign country.
London in 1947 is stranger still. But he is lucky, as he has been since 1941, when marksmen tried to shoot him into a pit full of corpses in a Lithuanian forest. The year before, different executioners in a different forest further east had shot and killed his father.
Those who faced the worst atrocities of World War II, which were inflicted on people in the "bloodlands" of eastern Poland and western Russia, knew that there was little to choose between the two mighty machines, Nazi and Soviet. How was it possible for the individual to survive the crushing wheels of ideology, terror, and mass murder with his integrity intact? The Leaves Are Falling, a sequel to A Postcard from the Volcano but a stand-alone story, explores this question.
Author: Lucy Beckett
Hardcover: 314 pages