Jackson Rule by Dinah McCall
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
If you are looking to read a book with a hero who has really, really gotten a bad break in life, look no further! Poor Jackson. He went to prison for fifteen years. He was sixteen years old. I cannot imagine how that must have been. Only to serve his time and go out into a world where few people are willing to look past what they think he is: ex-con, murderer, trash. I like to think that a person should be given a clean slate in life. I guess that doesn't really happen in real life. I don't want to get into my beliefs about the criminal justice system, because I don't think anyone wants to hear them. But, I will say that I think a person who serves their time and is willing to live an honest life, should get the opportunity to do so. Unfortunately, that's harder than it seems. For people generally take things at face value, and let their fears and suspicions rule them (I am not excluding myself from this).
I was surprised at how narrow-minded and judgmental Rebecca's reverend father was. I do realize that many Christians (but not all) are true to this portrayal of Reverend Hill. They are goody-goody and never miss church, but do not show their true beliefs through their actions. I was glad that Rebecca tried to live true to his teaching and her faith, and she called him on his hypocrisy. And Reverend Hill is forced to search his own heart and realize his own actions do not show what he preaches and believes.
In contrast to Reverend Hill, Rebecca and a few others were willing to give Jackson a chance. In fact, Rebecca was more loving and understanding to Jackson than he was to himself. He had a huge case of self-hatred! It was hard to deal with at times, but given his awful childhood and the fact that he spent almost half his life in prison, I could see why he was this way.
The cynical reader would probably find Jackson's continued shows of goodness a bit too much. Let's count:
1)Saves Rebecca by pulling her out of the path of an oncoming vehicle, and fixing her truck which had overheated for free.
2)Saves his next-door neighbor child from his abusive father, and later from a fire
3)Does CPR on Pete (a coworker and friend of Rebecca) when he has a heart-attack, thus saving his life.
4)Reads to, spends time with, and counsels young children who live at the shelter where he volunteers.
5)And there's a big whoozy, which is a major spoiler, so I won't say, but I'm counting it.
This wasn't an issue for me. I liked that his actions showed what a good person he was, even though people assumed the worst of him. He was very innocent in many ways. A sweet boy who had been weighed, judged, and found wanting, and given no first or second chances in life. This book made me cry a few times. I'm the kind of girl who likes to believe that people are good and good things happen to good people. Deep down, I'm an optimist, which is why I do like feel good romances (disguised as deeply angsty and sad romances with deleriously happy endings). So, this book did not fail to impress me. I know that some people will find this book too sappy. I can't speak for them. I loved this book, and I wanted to give Jackson a big, huge hug. I'm glad that he has Rebecca and other loved ones to do that for me.
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