Preacher’s Boy

Written by Katherine Paterson
Review by Eileen Charbonneau

Turn-of-the-20th-century Vermont is the setting for master storyteller Paterson’s (Bridge to Terabithia, Jacob Have I Loved) coming-of-age and father-and-son story, first published in 1999. Eleven-year-old Robbie is straining at the bit as a member of his paragon family, especially his big-hearted father, their small town’s preacher. As end-of-the-world talk starts, Robbie has a crisis of faith and short-term cross over into atheism. His adventures turn dark when his temper leads to violence against a town bully and a Mark Twainian kidnapping plot that goes awry. All is set to right before a luminous New Year’s Eve in the company of his father, a scene touched by both hope and dread of the coming century. Gripping and well-honed, Paterson’s signature strands of menace and melancholy contrast with the folksy tone of Preacher’s Boy.