Jake Wilkerson, a disillusioned young pastor who is an expert at hiding his fears, takes on a new assignment at a small rural church in Coudersport, Pennsylvania. It's a far piece from anywhere and full of curiously odd and eccentric people, including Emma Grainger, a single woman and a veterinarian who dismisses all Christians as "those people," and Tassy, a young runaway with a secret. His first day on the job, however, Jake is adopted by Petey - a cat of unknown origins and breed - but of great perception. Petey believes that he is on a mission from God to redeem Jake and bring him and his quirky friends back to the truth.
God sends us what we need sometimes. God sent Petey to Jake, the new young pastor of a small country church with a crooked steeple. While I was reading this book, my daughter and I came across a stray cat while we walked in our neighborhood. We’ve been dog people because of allergies, but that cat made a huge impression on both of us. There’s something wise and still about cats; Petey’s range of vocalized meows and his ability to sit and listen help Jake and so many other characters in this story.
I was waiting to see what Jake’s “secret” was. What could have caused him to lose his assistant pastor post and his girlfriend? I expected something so much worse than what we finally learn about his secret. And just like most of his congregation, I would have stood up and confessed to the same “sin” if I had been a member of the “Church of the Open Door”. There were so many characters to like – Vern, Eleanor, and Jimbo and Betty for instance – both of them praying that his work would pick up because too much togetherness put them on the verge of a “permanent tussle”. I liked Emma, the vet, but later relegated her to the same status as Jake’s ex-girlfriend. In fact, some of the women characters in this book, Emma, Barbara Ann, and Jake’s mother, remind me of the usual stereotypes about cats: catty, snide, sneaky, self-important, etc… Jake and the men including male Petey (with a few exceptions) seem more like stereotypical dogs: loyal, confused by anything that’s not straightforward, well-meaning, etc…
When I head to church this week, I will be imagining a furry feline sitting near my pastor as he gives his sermon. Like Irene who hadn’t been in church for 40 years, many people might show up for services if a wise cat sat nearby contemplating the words of the pastor, learning to forgive themselves and others, and to open themselves to love from neighbors and from God.Four Stars
*Reviewed by Colleen*
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