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Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite
I so enjoyed Don Trowden’s Normal Family, the first book in this trilogy, that I didn’t think twice before grabbing No One Ran to the Altar. The 10-year-old narrator of that first book, Henry, had me laughing and crying throughout the entire story. I was keen to learn what had been the long term effects of this rather unusual family on Henry and his two siblings. Well, I can tell you from the word go, that despite Henry’s well-developed ability to laugh at life and its foibles, the adult Henry no longer laughs as easily, and neither does the reader. Of the three Pendergast siblings, Henry has probably turned out the best. Henry has married a good woman and had two lovely children. But now, as his unlikeable, alcoholic and slowly dying blind father, Ned, becomes Henry’s burden, truths emerge that threaten to shatter the normal family and life that Henry has struggled to build for himself. Both father and son are trying to repair the damage of the past, but their talks increasingly frustrate Henry, leaving him with more questions, and when the answers come, they are devastating.
At the end of the book, Don Trowden confesses that his author name is a play on the word, “downtrodden”. How appropriate! Henry, and it seems, most members of his family, are mentally downtrodden as the failings of each generation are carried into the next. The same mistakes are repeated and when you think about it, chances are that’s true of your family and mine. Some, like Henry, turn to therapy to get above the weaknesses. Others, like Albert, give up trying. It’s recognizing our resemblance to Henry and his family that makes No One Ran to the Altar another undeniably good read for those who aren’t afraid to face reality. We all have our own Neds, Alberts, Eves, Lucys. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself and your family in this book. And just as Trowden did in the previous book, he surprised me with an ending I never saw coming. With his deceptively laid-back, reflective and conversational style, Don Trowden addresses the deep issues that make or break relationships. His writing offers readers insights and therapy for which psychiatrists charge big dollars. Your time and money will be well spent on this book. Read it!