The Orphans of Race Point by Patry Francis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Who are the Orphans of Race Point? Well, the original orphan is Gus, who isn't quite an orphan (his mother's dead, his father in jail for that murder). Hallie, daughter of the town doctor, goes Gus' aunt's house in an attempt to bring him out of his shocked silence. Eventually, he does and he, Hallie and Neil become a tight triumvirate until the boys blood swear their friendship. Later, Gus and Hallie reconcile and three once again are partners, until high school graduation when the unthinkable happens.
It's the aftermath of that night that forms the basis of the rest of this book, playing with the themes of love, forgiveness, hate, revenge, faith and disbelief. New characters join the plot, and the events leading to Gus' "orphanhood" repeat themselves, this time with very different results. Gus - now a priest, albeit one too trusting and naive - is framed for a death, which is when some of my credulity was strained. With no body, where was the absolute proof of his guilt? Given his popularity, wouldn't someone have tried to free him far earlier?
The last third is one of redemption and resolution, although the ending will probably disappoint readers looking for a more conventional resolution. For me, it was equal parts disappointment and relief that the characters stayed true to themselves.
ARC provided by publisher.