None But the Righteous

Counterpoint. Jan. 2022. 240p. ISBN 9781640094598. $26. F
DEBUT Eleven-year-old Ham disrupted his foster mother’s carefully ordered family routines. In an effort to control him, Miss Pearl gives him a locket that houses the relic and spirit of St. Martin de Porres. The spirit guides and controls Ham as he maneuvers through an awkward adolescence. Just as Ham begins to establish his adult life, Hurricane Katrina arrives. At the insistence of Deborah, a young woman he meets in the pre-storm chaos, he leaves New Orleans, a split-second decision that upends all that he knows. Dazed from his sudden escape, Ham initially recovers in Alabama at Deborah’s home, then in Georgia at the home of his childhood friend Mayfly. Desperate to find out what happened to his foster mother, Ham makes his way back home, struggling with the priest’s spirit every step of the way.
VERDICT Fulbright Scholar James debuts with a languid character study that meanders through key memories and thoughts of the protagonist and the influential individuals surrounding him. The amorphous nature of James’s tale may be challenging for readers who prefer a straightforward plot line.
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