Faith in What?

Richard Krawler, Author, Richard Krawiec, Author
Richard Krawler, Author, Richard Krawiec, Author Avisson Press Inc $23 (174p) ISBN 978-1-888105-05-6
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A working-class family's struggles with illness and unemployment inform Krawiec's well-meaning but flawed second novel (after Time Sharing). Set in Pittsburgh in the mid-1980s, it chronicles the adversities that beset Timmy, recently laid off from the steel plant, his wife, Pat, and their two daughters, brain-damaged Katie, 11, and her younger sister, Ellen. Through shifting points of view, the narrative movingly portrays Timmy's sense of worthlessness when he is unfairly denied his unemployment check and reduced to sorting through Goodwill items for his family, accepting handouts of food and collecting cans for nickel deposits. Pat feels guilt and frustration as she assumes primary responsibility for Katie and, in the process, overlooks Timmy's and Ellen's needs, as well as her own. When, in desperation, Timmy and a friend attempt to kidnap the mayor of Pittsburgh for a ransom of two jobs, Timmy unexpectedly gains a new perspective on life, and an answer to the question of the title. Krawiec emphasizes that while faith in institutions is ill-founded, belief in individual human sympathy, love and perseverance is not. The kidnapping ploy is far-fetched, and the mayor's response to it will make readers squirm with disbelief; but despite this plot miscalculation, Krawiec credibly limns the hearts and trials of characters worth caring about. (Mar.)
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