Horizon Homeless: A Book Review
Larry Peterson, author of the critically acclaimed Young Adult inspirational novels The Priest and the Peaches and The Demons of Abadon has written a brilliant book on the plight of the poor and the pre-homeless in our country. In Horizon Homeless, Peterson presents us with the fictitious tale of Bob and Tracey Slider and their twelve-year-old son, Jake. They are a composite of the typical American family. The Sliders are a hard-working middle class couple in their thirties who love and support one another and are good parents to their son. Then one day, Bob’s employer goes out of business and he no longer has a job. Bob accepts temporary employment, but is seriously injured on the job and becomes addicted to pain medication. Consequently, family relationships deteriorate. Unemployment, disability, lack of money, overdue bills, and Bob’s addiction, all create ceaseless anxiety that tears the family apart. Through the help of Catholic friends, the St. Vincent de Paul Society, an understanding and compassionate priest, and skilled counselors, the family is eventually restored.
Peterson challenges the stereotype of the pre-homeless and the homeless person through his story. He asks, “Have you ever seen a homeless person and thought, ‘Why don’t they just get a damn job?’ Did you stop and think that maybe they had a job and then, through no fault of their own, they lost it? Is it possible they tried as hard as they could, but could not find another job? Did you consider that maybe there was an illness that altered their life? Maybe pain medications prescribed for an unwanted, debilitating injury turned them into a victim addict? Maybe they are a vet with a severe case of PTSD? Maybe it is a certain type of mental illness?”
What Peterson expresses in Horizon Homeless is the fact that none of us is immune to this type of suffering. We are all vulnerable to job loss and the possibility of unemployment and its consequences. The larger question at hand is: How will we handle it happens to us? Will we turn to God or away from Him? Will we swallow our pride and allow others to help us? Will we humble ourselves and admit we have a problem and work hard at resolving that problem or will we resort to denial? God always desires what is in our best interests in this life and gives us the free will to make choices. We do not always have control over the bad things that happen to us in life, but we do have control over our own actions and how we react to things. We can choose to humbly walk with God and accept his graces or we can choose to pridefully go it alone and block his graces. Prayer is the path to peace, as the characters in this story eventually discover.
Horizon Homeless is a poignant, inspiring, and insightful tale of the plight of the poor and the pre-homeless in our country that encourages the reader to re-examine their opinions about the jobless and to have compassion for the poor. It also offers a prescription to all suffering we experience in life – to turn to God in our pain and receive His healing graces.