04 April 2011

Review: Triune, by Andrew Bowen

A Jew, a Muslim and a Christian walk into a bar....

It's okay, you can laugh at whatever punchline you can imagine to finish that sentence. When it comes to religion and religious differences, I'm pretty sure Andrew Bowen would prefer we all laugh a little more and bicker a little less. Andrew recently published his novella, Triune, and it is available both in print and in Kindle format.

Product description from Amazon:

No one--not even the band themselves--expected Triune to go this far.

Jaron, Sam, and Noah have a simple mission: bring unity and peace among the faiths of Abraham through killer music. Triune's members: Jaron--a Jew with strong Israeli roots, Sam--a Palestinian Muslim, and Noah--a devout Christian with a haunted past, set out across the United States to spread their message and face acclaim and disaster at every turn. The country is taken by storm as Triune blazes a trail of revolution across the Plains toward a record contract in California. But when tragedy strikes Jaron's family and the Palestinians declare total independence from Israel, the Holy Land errupts into civil war. Secrets from the past and old rivalries emerge, forcing Jaron, Sam, and Noah to pick sides in a conflict that threatens to rip the band, their spiritual homeland, and their lives apart.

When I began reading, I was chuckling every few paragraphs it seemed. Jaron is a wellspring of comedic moments, whether its his substitutions for Amen at the end of prayers (Ra-men, Gay-men) or popping golf cart wheelies in the middle of a round of golf with the Reverend of a church. There are plenty of moments to laugh, but also plenty of moments to think.

You'll get to know and care about all three members of the band throughout the book. Sam's struggle to be her own person under the watch of her strict Muslim parents is touching, and something we can all relate to on some level. Noah is mysterious, seemingly haunted, and provides a quiet voice of reason. While each band member has their own “book” in the story, I feel Jaron is really the central focus of the plot. His actions are the catalyst for much of what happens, and he is the character I most identified with. He is light-hearted in his faith – something some may interpret as a lack of faith, or shallow faith, but it's not. He's prone to whimsical decisions he believes are divinely inspired, and this makes not only for some funny moments, but also his dramatic end.

Triune has an ending you have to read to believe, so I won't give it away here. I'll just say that Jaron takes some actions that surprised and saddened me. The ending stuck with me. I had to think about it for a while. I wished desperately that it hadn't ended the way it did. At first. Then I realized that, really, it couldn't have ended any other way. It was a logical progression of events where the characters behaved according to their personalities, not some author-contrived ending simply intended to shock (c'mon, I know you've all read at least one book like that and wanted to toss it across the room afterward, right? No worries about that here.)

I think the best word I can use to describe this story is unassuming, and that's a good thing. If someone wants to tell you a parable or fable, you expect a message. If someone wants to quote to you from the Bible or other holy text, you expect a message. Sometimes, expecting a message gets in the way of receiving that message. With Triune, Andrew has crafted a story that is entertaining and will pull you in, have you rooting for these three friends as their band tours the country, and hoping for their safety when things take a turn for the worse. Before you've had a chance to look for a message, you'll have learned it.

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