cover image For the Love of Mary

For the Love of Mary

Christopher Meades. ECW (PGW/Legato, U.S. dist.; Jaguar Book Group, Canadian dist.), $16.95 trade paper (344p) ISBN 978-1-55022-974-5

Foregoing the heightened absurdities of his novel The Last Hiccup, which won a Canadian Author Association National Award, Meades has written a more realistic narrative, albeit one laden with farcical elements. In the summer of 1996 in the small town of Parksville, 15-year-old Jacob’s life is fraught with turmoil: his friend Moss is in the throes of pubescent lust; his sister, Caroline, is a wannabe makeup artist who’s “completely incapable of eating a banana in a non-erotic way”; and his mother is obsessed with the Church of the Lord’s Creation, an enormous new Methodist church across the street from their own Presbyterian one. As his mother and the Methodist youth pastor commence a battle of billboards over which brand of faith gets “to be in charge of what everyone thinks,” Jacob cautiously kindles a relationship with Mary, the beautiful daughter of the rival church’s minister. The story is charming if insubstantial, and Meades keeps things buoyant through his charismatically befuddled lead, as well as by interspersing moments of quiet humor with broad, irreverent set pieces such as the church’s annual re-enactment of Operation Desert Storm. With a style and wit reminiscent of William Kotzwinkle, Meades has fashioned an engagingly droll coming-of-age tale set against a backdrop of gentle (yet barbed) religious satire. (June)