Monday, September 7, 2009

Squat by Taylor Field

What would it be like to live 24 hours in the life of a homeless man in New York? Taylor Field knows the answer.

He is a Princeton graduate but instead of taking a lucrative job and settling down to a comfortable life, he chose to be a missionary to inner city New York. He and his family have lived there since 1986. This is a fictional account of his real life experiences.

is the tale of a day in the life of a man named Squid. Due to some bad choices, Squid is now being hunted by Saw. Saw is involved in Satanism, drugs, and collecting "rent" from fellow squatters. Saw turns the other squatters against Squid by offering a reward to anyone who helps him catch his prey.
Squid has had a rough life. He was abused by his mother's boyfriends, grew up in poverty, suffers from obsessive compulsiveness, and finally escaped to find a home living in a squat. His closest friends are his sometimes mentor Unc and Bonehead(who is obsessed with hitting rocks with a stick). Unc sums up their lives as...

"We live in squat. We don't know squat. We don't have squat. We don't do squat. We don't give a squat. People say we're not worth squat."

The one ray of happiness in Squid's life is his unspoken love of Rachel, a soup kitchen volunteer. Rachel truly cares about everyone. Even this goes wrong for Squid when he is introduced to Rachel's boyfriend Jason.

With limited resources, Squid must stay ahead of Saw until the inevitable showdown. The suspense keeps building as each hour passes. This is definitely a book you don't want to start unless you have plenty of time to read it. It is hard to put down. And once you read it, you will never look at other people the same way again. Especially those who are down on their luck.

After reading that the author is a missionary to the homeless, I expected this novel to contain a heavy handed message. I would not have been surprised to find a weak story wrapped around a sermon. Instead, I was glad to see that Taylor has managed to craft what I think is one of the best Christian novels of the year. And this is just his first fictional novel. I can't wait to see if he writes another.

Rating: 5 out of 5