In 2017, Aidan Stevens is a 13-year-old boy in Colorado who was born after the death of his father. He goes to his attic to look for the letters and documents explaining his father’s life and death that his mother, Grace, has kept to share with him when he’s older, but Aidan is dead set on finding out about his father immediately. The story alternates between Aidan’s father, Shawn, telling his story in the first person in 2003, with Grace intermittently narrating from her own perspective that same year, and Aidan expressing his reactions to his father’s life story in 2017.
That is how Paul Schumacher’s THE IMPORTANCE OF NOW unfolds, and it’s a highly emotional and emotionally charged story. Shawn Stevens, an 18-year-old who has been released from a juvenile detention center after doing time for robbing a liquor store nearly four years earlier, returns to his hometown outside Denver and, reluctantly, agrees to mentor a group of boys four years younger than he at the urging of his church pastor. Shawn is an angry young man, having turned to crime after his father was killed by a drunk driver while crossing the street. His mother Ellen remains emotionally distant and difficult to communicate with as a result of the accident that took her husband, and the boys Shawn has been assigned to mentor are rambunctious and seemingly beyond Shawn’s control. Then, a fight with his only friend comes to blows, leaving him and his pride injured. But Shawn begins to learn the value of living in the moment and overcoming the demons of the past when, after ducking into a convenience store to escape a blinding rain and falling on the floor, he meets Grace. At that moment, Shawn has literally and figuratively found shelter from the storm.
THE IMPORTANCE OF NOW is a heartwarming and heartbreaking tale of redemption and forgiveness, as Shawn slowly finds his footing and appreciates the joy of living in the present while slowly atoning for his past crime. In 2017, looking back at his dad through letters written by the young men who had been in Shawn’s mentoring group, Aidan begins the know the father he never had and becomes fascinated with Shawn’s life story and his journey to self-discovery. But Aidan remains troubled by the old police reports describing Shawn’s crime, and he wonders if he can really look up to someone so evidently flawed. Then, in 2003, Shawn confidentially reveals to Grace and his boys an even greater crime he committed the night he robbed a store as he finally tells Grace about the robbery. The revelations in 2003 threaten Shawn’s relationship with Grace and his involvement in the mentoring program and in 2017 lead Aidan to contemplate running away from home. Can Shawn be forgiven in the present or in the future? Can he ever forgive the man who killed his father?
THE IMPORTANCE OF NOW pulses with energy and emotion. Schumacher brilliantly pulls at the heart strings of the reader, while offering a powerful lesson of always staying focused on looking to this day and taking advantage of what life offers while learning to put yesterday behind you and seek forgiveness for one’s sins while forgiving those who have sinned against you. Schumacher’s story puts him in the same league with the late Pat Conroy, who was renowned for his novels about families affected by trauma.
THE IMPORTANCE OF NOW, a story about overcoming the past and appreciating the present, is a heartwarming tale of redemption and forgiveness that is both emotional and emotionally charged.
~Steven Maginnis for IndieReader