When you’re eighteen, legally you may be considered an adult, but you’re just a kid. At eighteen, Jesse Barlow was just a kid moving across the country in pursuit of his Hollywood dream, while trying to shake off his preacher’s son life in his Ohio hometown. Eleven years later and he still can’t.
The story opens with Jesse hanging out with his girlfriend, Jada, and a couple of friends in their L.A. apartment, but that’s not how it ends. Chasing an acting dream while working in a photography shop is how Jesse imagined his new life would begin, but not how he thought it would be over ten years later. Desperate for a new acting role lead, he takes on the biggest risk of his life–one that wouldn’t promise to kill him physically, but just might spiritually and whatever’s left of his preacher’s son’s soul. After finding out the risk wasn’t worth it and furthermore, that it just lead him to another dead end, his Hollywood life gets a little too dark and leads him all the way down to a suicide attempt after figuring out Jada had been seeing a doctor behind his back for some time.
His downward spiral leads him all the way back home–back to his roots. Jesse is now forced to make amends with Chuck, his preacher father, something he has been dreading ever since he left, and along the way, discovers a surprise about his life that he left behind that is set to corner him into making a decision involving love, life, and the biggest sacrifice he never dreamed of since coming back from the dead.
From the Dead is a John Herrick novel that causes us to question whether our dreams are worth fighting for if it means leaving our family and loved ones behind. We can all relate to Jesse’s character: leaving home, pursuing a dream that only we can see, and having to face what comes after the realization that this dream will probably never get off the ground. But we may not all be able to relate to being a preacher’s son and how it feels when you feel pressured to follow in your preacher father’s footsteps when clearly you don’t belong there. Herrick, who is a graduate of the University of Missouri and now resides in St. Louis, knows how to draw a reader in, hold your attention, and keep you guessing to the very last word.
You get to the end of the book and you want more. We know from a phone call that eventually it doesn’t really work out between Jada and her doctor boyfriend, but we wonder at the end if Jesse and Jada ever patch up. There might be more there to discover, some closure of some sort, as the reader is never fully satisfied with loose ends, but no need to worry. We are still left with the good feeling that she got what she asked for.
At one point or another we have all been where Jesse’s been: lost, confused, angry, and tired of thinking about the past. Let’s hope we can have an ending like his, one where we can do right and give back what we took from others.