“Never” by J. Grace Pennington

Deep and Satisfying

81moJnFBs6L._SL1500_Brothers Ross and Travis Hamilton are very different. Nevertheless, when quiet, sensitive, bookworm Travis is convicted of murder, hard-working, practical Ross is determined to prove him innocent; even though Travis himself isn’t sure he’s innocent.

Travis’s punishment is ten years in a nearby coal mine worked by convicts. As he adjusts to life underground, with poor food, little rest, and inadequate water, he struggles to hold fast to the principles of integrity his late father taught him.

Meanwhile, Ross deals with a town unusually full of suspicious strangers. Clues pass like sand scattering in the desert wind, leaving Ross mystified, and Travis no closer to escaping the so-called “Dead Mines” with his life. As Ross’s time to understand the plot runs out, Travis’s tormenters continue to ratchet up the pressure, trying to crack him (for what purpose, he doesn’t know). Nevertheless, the brothers are determined to do what they believe is right, never abandoning the principles that make them who they are.

I have to admit I have a soft spot for stories about brother relationships. So, I’ve been looking forward to reading this book, and I was not disappointed. The brothers, being orphans, have no one to rely on but each other, and their devotion to one another through the kiln of trial, their faith that no matter what happens they will stand by each other, thrills my heart. It’s devotion like this we need to see more of in our own families.

There’s more to Never than family loyalties, though. Unlikely allies confront shadowy villains. Disparate threads combine later on to point to a reasonable answer. Suffering is real (prepare to become very thirsty), and hope is faint, but not absent.

And this is the heart of Ms. Pennington’s novel. The brothers’ hope is not in the near-monarchical justice system of their western town. It’s not, ultimately, in their own ability to vindicate or rescue themselves.

It’s a hope that gives the strength – a strength not their own – to press on. Even when things look bad. Even when nothing looks like it can come out right. Even when Travis has been worked down to a living shell of what he once was, he has hope that he will stand firm and do the right thing, and never compromise. Never submit to evil. Never.

The book is available on Amazon here; the author’s website is here, JGracePennington.com.

(Technical Note: I purchased the ebook version of this book. Reading it in Kindle Ereader had no problems, but when I converted it via Calibre for reading on my Nook, an error occurred where random words were added to the end of random paragraphs where they didn’t belong, the text was not properly formatted, and some paragraphs were even missing words or sentences in the middle.)

Cover image is used with permission of the author.

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