A Journey to Faith
by Jean Ellis Hudson
Trafford Publishing

"You're a good boy, Clem, always have been. God loves you and has His hand on you..."

Clem has had challenges, almost too many, in his young life, as depicted with sensitivity by first-time novelist Jean Ellis Hudson. He loses his parents at any early age and though his loving and very religious "G'amps" Jeremiah and "G'amma" Ruth care him for, his troubles will not end. Obviously "slow" as a toddler, Clem will be taunted by mean-spirited folks and will have to make his peace with that. Clem is upset when G'amps tells him they are moving West, leaving behind everything safe and familiar, including his mother’s grave, in the troubled years of change after the Civil War. Settling in Texas, the three are able to get by with hard work and prayer, but when Ruth succumbs to a fever, Jeremiah and Clem are on their own, working as carpenters in town and taking care of a small prosperous homestead. The cycle of change rolls on as Jeremiah dies of a heart attack and for the first time, Clem, now in his twenties, is completely alone. Or is he? Will he find a loving companion and start a new cycle of life? It is his simple faith in God that, over and over again, determines his destiny.

This is an inspiring book. The author has done some creditable research about the historical ambience, home and farm life of the times, including such details as the visits of peddlers and itinerant preachers among the settlers, the tension between cattlemen and homesteaders, and the general poverty of the post-war years. This gives the book a realistic feel. The author obviously wants us to identify with the struggles of the main characters and regard them as the kind of people we like to claim as our forebears. It is courageous to create a novel centered on a person with a mental handicap, and Hudson should be commended for this. The portrait of Clem is believably within the spectrum of those with mild retardation, very capable of working hard and taking pride in what he does despite some limitations. The book provides a good mix of narrative and dialog, with one notable feature being the prayers, sometimes long ones, which are raised up in times in crisis.

Ellis's book is apparently the first installment in what she has named The Fruits Series, and presumably further works will highlight, as this one does, individual accomplishments and aspirations guided by strong Christian faith.

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