Ann Tatlock’s book The Returning is very different. Ann’s story telling is a quiet way of facing major issues that families are facing. It doesn’t mean that all families are facing them, but it does happen.
John has been apart from his family for 5 years. He is returning today. Andrea is excited and yet not sure if she is ready to have him come live with them. He was in jail because of an drunk driving accident. She is worried about fitting him back into their family and routine. Billy is excited, Rebekah is indifferent and Phoebe never met her father outside of the prison visiting room.
This is a story of adjustment and forgiveness. It is a look at someone who is trying to turn his life around. John had a drinking problem before he left and his family doesn’t really believe him when he says he has been changed. Especially his teenage daughter doesn’t believe in his prison conversion. This is a major adjustment to the entire family.
I personally don’t know any families that deal with the issue of a parent returning to the family after a prison stay, but I do know several families that have dealt with a few of the other issues that are dealt with. I don’t want to talk too much about it as I don’t want to give too much away. What I really found very interesting is the only one in the family who goes to church at all is Billy. He goes to the little church just down the street. It makes for an interesting dynamic that not many christian books take on. What if the family isn’t Christian? What if the one that is Christan is the one that caused the problems to begin with? What if he or she isn’t perfect as the family seems to think he should be? All points that make for a story that is a bit different than the “normal” story.