In Lynne Hinton’s novel Pie Town, the inhabitants of dry, isolated Pie Town aren’t particularly kind to newcomers -- not to their new priest, Father George, and certainly not to worldly, wise-cracking hitchhiker Trina. But through the kindness of a sick boy named Alex and mysterious otherworldly interventions, Trina and George are drawn to the center of Pie Town’s problems. Experiencing the greatest kindness and the greatest opposition, George and Trina are forced to confront their internal struggles for peace and forgiveness.
Hinton excels at drawing organic, relatable characters. Trina, for example, is blunt, cheeky, and personable, despite her unrepentant attitude about her mistakes. Her words are sharp, but her heart is soft, and, through Trina, Hinton bravely tackles questions of faith. Father George, on the other hand, doesn’t immediately win readers’ affections, but as he faces insults to his profession, his clothes, and his faith, readers begin to sympathize with his attempts to find a place in his skeptical community. One of Hinton’s weaker characters is Alex, a wheelchair-bound boy who is loved by all in town. Though severely ill, he remains unfailingly hopeful, patient, and forgiving, and even his anger is portrayed as always righteous. Alex serves his purpose in the novel well; but even so, his characterization becomes tiring and repetitive.
Although Hinton presents readers with intriguing portraits of human nature, she falters with matters in the spiritual realm. She focuses on the concept of guardian angels and rarely mentions God or Christ. Father George, though authentic as a character, fails to provide his congregation or his readers with strong spiritual guidance. The Christian faith is muddled with Native American spirituality, and the central message of Christ’s grace is practically disregarded. The town’s “salvation” comes through Alex and angels, not Christ and the Holy Spirit. John’s gospel says of Christ, “The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone” (John 1:4, The New Living Translation). That message won’t be found here.
As a Christian novel, Pie Town asks all the right questions, yet fails to provide even a glimpse of the true answers. It’s a thought-provoking novel with muddled spirituality; I recommend it only to discerning adults. Readers should also be prepared for some foul language and a brief but explicit scene. – Paula Weinman, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
Pie Town, New Mexico, was once legendary for its extraordinary pies. But it's been a while since these delectable desserts graced the counter at the local diner. The townspeople—a hearty mix of Anglos, Hispanics, and Native Americans—like to think of themselves as family, especially when it comes to caring for Alex, a disabled little boy being raised by his grandparents. But, unforeseen by all, Pie Town's fortunes are about to take a major turn—due to the arrival of a new priest, Father George Morris, who seems woefully unprepared for his first assignment, and the young hitchhiker Trina, who some townsfolk just know is trouble. . . .