Book Review — Please Don't Remove MarGreat's Glasses!
Poetry usually carries with it a connotation of language and sensory detail. While such delightful imagery is not absent from this novel, it is the poetry of ideas, of a journey, that marks Please Don't Remove MarGreat's Glasses! as especially noteworthy.
Forgiveness and Hope: A Modern Valjean
The journey of Timothy Clement is a powerful testimony to forgiveness and hope that invests the reader emotionally from the very first page. The author carefully crafts his words in such a way that empathy is instantly won. Without knowing the whole story, the reader is immediately offered a snapshot into Timothy's heart that is raw, emotional, and real. I remember tearing up while reading just the first chapter, even though I had not yet had the opportunity to completely get to know the characters.
After the reader is thrown out of the flash-forward, he follows Timothy as he moves from a spoiled but relatively innocent young man to a scarred and bitter survivor to, finally, a man who grows into himself because he has chosen the righteous path. The journey is heartbreakingly honest in its portrayal and filled with depth and meaning. In a carefully-drawn spectrum reminiscent of Les Misérables, our modern-day Jean Valjean eventually passes down the Christ-like legacy of love after encountering a series of human "guardian angels," most notably Brother Jude. When Timothy is disowned by his own father due to tragic circumstances, Brother Jude becomes a spiritual father to him. While initially feeling disdain for the religious, Timothy eventually develops respect for his new "mentor," and a friendship is born. Their friendship is simultaneously beautiful and real, portrayed masterfully in both dialogue and wordless moments. Equally striking is the cyclical repetition in this poetic arc when the role of fatherhood is passed on to Timothy in the wake of another tragedy.
Thematic Arc: St. Anthony of Padua
Throughout the novel, Baker seamlessly weaves a profound thematic thread pertaining to St. Anthony of Padua, the Patron Saint of Lost Articles. It is well-developed and poetic, remaining one of my very favorite elements of the book. As Timothy's mother lays dying, she gives her son a St. Anthony necklace, telling him, "He helps find people who are lost." I found this to be a beautiful variation on finding "lost articles." The richness of the symbolism will strike a chord with readers as Timothy refuses to part with the necklace even when its full meaning is unknown, even in the most dismal of circumstances when he is "lost." While this may be attributed to loyalty to his mother, the reader is still given a sense that there is more to it. When Timothy finds shelter in a church named after this great saint, its significance deepens, allowing its full meaning to be revealed. The climax of this thematic thread is nothing less than a work of art, as a broken promise becomes a new promise restored and renewed.
Art: A Gift that May Be Used for Good or For Ill
The novel also serves as a beautiful tribute to the use of the gifts that God has given us. Art is especially highlighted as a gift that may be used for both good and ill, to harm or to heal. In a day and age in which the mainstream celebrates misuse of art and other special gifts, MarGreat serves as a keen reminder that may stimulate dialogue long after the last page is read. Once again, the poetic cycle continues as one man's decision to use his talents compels another to follow suit. As a result, pain is transformed into beauty, offering an inspiring conclusion.
A Powerful Story of Redemption
Thought-provoking and engaging, Please Don't Remove MarGreat's Glasses! is a hallmark in its genre. I highly recommend this powerful story of redemption, faith, and true love. It is available for purchase here.