Thursday, August 5, 2010
Cliff Coon's "The Mending String"
Then a faction at the church decides it’s time for the pastor to retire, or find another congregation. And Ellen finds a photograph in her teacher’s house, a photograph that turns out to be her father as a teenager. And then a book of photographs. And then a binder. And the Loverage’s placid life begins to unravel.
Cliff Coon’s The Mending String is all about relationships – between a pastor and his daughter, between a teenage girl and a new friend, old but not forgotten loves, dysfunctional families, and church families whose attitudes border on ruthlessness to achieve their goals. Coons mixes it all up into a extremely satisfying story that contains enough twists and turns to keep the reading guessing as to how it will end.
The characters are real and recognizable. The unbending pastor, the daughter who loves her father but yearns to escape, the conniving congregational members convinced they have the good of the church at heart, even the English teacher who has not gotten over her first love – the characters are drawn true. The heart of the story is the father and daughter. As their carefully constructed worlds collapse around them, Clayton and Ellen begin to reach toward each other.
Published in 2004, The Mending String was nominated for and received the Christy Award for best first novel. Coons, however, died a few weeks before the awards program. He left this novel as his sole work of fiction, and a fitting tribute it is.