ECW Press is a small, Canadian press that I have really come to trust for quality work. You can’t always say that about indies who publish works by unknown authors. Their latest offering is For The Love of Mary by Christopher Meades, a satire and coming of age novel that plays with small town religious rivalries.
I really enjoyed For The Love of Mary. It was funny, light but not trivial, with the right amount of teenage angst. It’s a hard balance to find. Writing about teenagers and their experiences without being juvenile, while also bringing humor is difficult, but Meades achieves it. Perhaps it is because it is mostly adults who he is poking fun at.
The story focuses on Jacob, whose mother may be having a midlife crisis as she battles the monster church that has popped up across the street from her own humble institution. Jacob, of course, falls for the older daughter of the minister of the monster church. This is small town life and politics writ large, and that is something I love.
Who would like this book? Why are novels dealing in some way with religious issues genre kryptonite for me? Then throw in a little satire and you’ve got me. For The Love of Mary is not too light, but not too heavy with enough oomph to keep driving forward. It is a perfect read when you need a palate cleanser after something heavy. The one real disappointment for me was that Meades, a Canadian writer, chose to set his novel in the United States. Why does that grate on me so?