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Jesus Jackson    by James Ryan Daley Amazon.com order for
Jesus Jackson
by James Ryan Daley
Order:  USA  Can
Poisoned Pen, 2014 (2014)
Softcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Jonathon Stiles is grieving for the death of his older brother Ryan. It's when he enters the intensely religious St. Soren's Academy that he learns of the tragedy, the same day that he meets Jesus Jackson.

Jackson is wearing an all-white leisure suit and closely resembles the Son of God. Jonathon tells Jackson that he has no faith and hates being in the Catholic school. He would choose to go to the public high school but his mother is sure he would turn into a druggie and/or a criminal if she allows that to happen.

Jackson tells Jonathon that he must have faith in something. And promises to find that something in which Jonathon can have faith. He pays Jackson twelve dollars to find him faith in whatever. Jackson appears from time to time in the story, always on the football field. Who is he and what is his agenda?

Back to the dead brother. Jonathon teams up with wimpy Henry, his new BFF. They both feel that Ryan's plunge into a ravine was not an accident and determine to investigate on their own to find who could have pushed Ryan to his death. Their attempts to find clues add a real touch of humor to a story that explores the meaning of faith and death. Poor Henry. He always ends up holding the wrong end of the stick.

Jonathon is offered grief counseling and turns down the psychologist's help. In fact he walks out on him determined to live on his own terms. Tired of his mom's overly solicitous mothering, he decides that he will choose the course of his own life. That's a big decision for a fourteen year-old.

Jonathon deals with his brother's girlfriend Tristan who is distraught over losing Ryan. A little too distraught? Jonathon acquires, much to his disbelief and delight, a girlfriend himself Cassie. Cassie is the sister of the boy Jonathon and Henry are sure killed Ryan.

Jesus Jackson is a very entertaining book that also asks questions that we all might have asked at Jonathon's age. He is a mature fourteen year-old who has discussed with his big brother Ryan the meaning and practice of faith, going so far as to list and explore many religions. However, Jesus Jackson is not wrapped up in belief. Faith is simply a part of a very intriguing story that will have you thinking long into the night.

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