#6-A Prayer for Orion-Heartlands 2020 Best Reads

Memoirs were big in my 2020 reading. But I would have read anything Katherine James put out after her debut novel, Can You See Anything Now? James is not one of those Christian writers who submerges harsh reality beneath a pious gloss. She combines an artist’s eye with brutal honesty and yet suffused throughout is an awareness of God’s presence in all things. A Prayer for Orion: A Son’s Addiction and a Mother’s Love brings all of that to her journey with her son, whom she calls Sweetboy, through heroin addiction. What results is not your typical addiction narrative or your typical Christian book. It’s #6 on our Best Read list.

You can read my full review here, but here’s an excerpt:

A Prayer for Orion rolls out elliptically, moving us through time the way memory holds it. We circle around to moments in James’ childhood, the creation of The Chill Spot in the garage of their Philadelphia home where a tribe of Lost Boys begins to gather, the wedding of her daughter, a traumatic car trip with Sweetboy when he was a child, and always to the night when they drove frantically to find him after his first overdose. The circling keeps us from giving the horror, The Evil, too much power, more attention than it deserves. It highlights the unique, loving relationships that James and her husband, Rick, were able to develop with the young adults who collected in their home.

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