Verdict: THESE THY GIFTS is a thoughtful, warmly-told story of a man who feels his vocation down to his bones, and uses it for the good of others as best he can.
Monsignor Steven Trimboli is dealing with controversy, and not for the first time. Having caught his popular fellow priest in the vestry sexually molesting a boy, he immediately removed him from duty and brought charges against him in the diocese. But the diocese is attempting to cover up the crime. As the story unfolds, the reader is given Trimboli’s life story as background for his present fight, including numerous run-ins with pastoral authority stemming from his desire to serve as an advocate for ordinary people in need, and including the one major sin of his life, which resulted in his greatest joy.
THESE THY GIFTS is essentially a fictional biography of a kind and caring man willing to go to the mat for those he feels are overlooked or damaged by the greed and selfishness of the wealthy and powerful. From his beginnings as a union advocate to his service in Vietnam to his desire to protect victims of abuse, Trimboli’s story is presented with warmth and genuine affection, and it is hard not to grow fond of him as the story goes on. At times, he comes across a bit over-saintly, especially in comparison to his corrupt superiors. However, the story’s tendency to preachiness is often effectively diluted by the snarky humor of some of the other characters, especially Rosalie, the mobster’s wife turned clothing designer, whose sharp, take-no-prisoners personality is a distinct asset to the book.
It is Rosalie who develops most as a character, too – Steve is nearly saintly from the beginning, and merely becomes somewhat more cynical about authority and better able to fight back than he was in his youth. The story is told mainly from their alternating points of view, giving the reader a wider and clearer view of the development of their near-familial relationship and what it means to each, as well as different perspectives on the unfolding storyline. The author is subtle and skilled in his emotional language – there is real feeling here, movingly portrayed, that never devolves into maudlin sentiment or interrupts the reader’s experience to over-explain. There’s enough real history, solid moral sense, and not least importantly, skilled storytelling here to make for a very enjoyable read.
THESE THY GIFTS is a thoughtful, warmly-told story of a man who feels his vocation down to his bones, and uses it for the good of others as best he can.
~Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader