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Saturday, May 26, 2018

Fiction Review: The Bargain

The Bargain, by Aaron D. Gansky gives me a new favorite author.  When deciding to get this book, I read the reviews. One said Gansky’s writing was “so tight you could bounce a dime on it.” The reviewer was right. His style is spare and brilliant.

The story begins with Nadine’s cancer, her visit with her sister, and her husband Connor’s feelings of helplessness along with his “why” questions. Their marriage has been wonderful, yet she is suffering. Connor Reedly, an accomplished journalist, meets Mason, who tells him he has a message from God for him. (This was hard for me to swallow, since I don’t believe in extra-biblical revelation, but it is fiction, so I decided to continue reading. I’m glad I did.) The Bargain is a challenge. If Connor will interview and write about ten “good” people in the desert town, his wife will get better. Mason will pay him $25,000.

Connor isn’t a believer, but he loves Nadine, and he’ll do anything for her. He begins the project with a chip on his shoulder, resenting that to complete the challenge, he’s not spending time with her—in her last days. Mason introduces him to the most unlikely “good” people and tells his own story. Connor is threatened, shot, and what little faith he has is rattled to the core. This is a tale of humanity and growth and especially, of salvation.

Each chapter tells one of the stories. They are raw and unadorned. They will touch your heart and cause you to think differently about those around you. The desert setting and the town itself couldn’t be better for what you learn about the harsh lives of its people.

As Connor interviews people and writes their stories, he notices his wife improving in health. He is tired and miserable as he completes his part of the bargain, but when he meets someone who preaches Truth to his soul, he begins to understand.

I enjoyed this book immensely. It isn’t a “happy” read, but it’s real and satisfying. Gansky’s writing is amazing.

There are a couple of crude words used sparingly and no profanity at all. There is some violence. A few of the stories involve prostitutes, sexual sins, and extremely sad situations. There is no explicit content. Because of many of the themes, it’s a book for adults only.

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