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Jocelyn's boyfriend Benny breaks up with her because he is counseled to do so by the town priest, Father Warren. Jocelyn's association with the church is tenuous. Although she believes in God, she didn't attend her First Communion. Her divorced mother discourages her from attending St. Mary's. But now Jocelyn wonders if her soul is stained --- is that why Father Warren warns Benny away from her?

Meanwhile, Jocelyn's neighbor Gabe vanishes. Someone says they spotted him exiting St. Mary's at midnight right before he vanished. Supposedly, Gabe stole communion wine --- an explanation that rings false to Jocelyn.

Chapters alternate between the past and present. In the now, Jocelyn yearns for Benny and puzzles agonizingly over Gabe's disappearance. Flashbacks explore her sometimes difficult and confusing relationship with Gabe, her disconnection from the church, and her pain at her parents' divorce.

Although officially broken up, Jocelyn and Benny make out and he loses his Saint Christopher medal. Jocelyn is jealous when he admits he told Father Warren how he lost it --- and she's horrified when she hears that he tells the priest every single detail of their lovemaking. Father Warren tells Benny to stay away from Jocelyn, reinforcing her deep-down fears that she is truly evil.

From the very beginning, well-drawn and subtle suspense grinds away at the reader. As chapter follows chapter, we just can't shake that feeling of impending doom. Jennifer Richard Jacobson's novel is multilayered --- with elements of romance, mystery/suspense, family relationships, and friendships. At the very heart of the book lies the question of faith --- religious faith, and also self-faith. I highly recommend this thought-provoking and beautifully written novel.

Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on October 18, 2011

by Jennifer Richard Jacobson

  • Publication Date: February 8, 2005
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books
  • ISBN-10: 068986745X
  • ISBN-13: 9780689867453