The First Conversation
by Allen Holliman

"People need to understand that God only wants the best for us and that if we go astray, there will be consequences."

Growing up in Omaha without a father, Diligent is often faced with sadness or difficulties that he chooses to blame on the absence of a paternal influence. Despite a challenging situation, Diligent does his best to stay on the straight and narrow but is faced with temptations to make poor choices like skipping school, smoking marijuana, and hanging with the wrong crowds. Just as he finds a spot on his cousin’s drill team and begins to find some direction, Diligent makes his most misguided choice yet and robs a bank with his friend Torrey. This lapse in judgment lands Diligent in jail for five to ten years but also provides him with a chance to get some answers about his life that he has searched for as long as he can remember.

In this book, the author uses a perfect amount of detail to frame this story that for many is more than just a work of fiction. Diligent’s self-questioning and struggles with everything ranging from his sexuality to his sense of family accurately represent the turmoil that can occur when growing up in a single-parent household. Narrated in the first person, the use of remorseful descriptors and an undertone of shame build the reader’s expectations up, letting them know that while the story may not be a happy one, it does leave the door open for hope. While the narrative contains descriptions of sexual activity and drug use, there is a very strong current of faith that runs through this book, and readers who believe in mercy, second chances, and the grace of God will find plenty of examples at work here. Brutally honest and told from the heart, this can be a beacon or a cautionary tale to those that keep an open mind as they read.

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