Monday, July 14, 2008

Passport by Christopher Blunt: A REVIEW

Catholics consider the loving but platonic relationship between Joseph and Mary as something to admire; and indeed, some married saints even followed in their example. But in this modern age, where we believe we can have everything if we just work it right, do we consider the platonic marriage a romantic one? Christopher Blunt's Passport shouts unequivocally, "Yes!"

Stan Eigenbaur, is a thirty-something virgin looking for the perfect Catholic wife. Through a friend, Angie, he meets Trihn, who while not Catholic, is nonetheless cute, fun to talk to and at least accepting of his faith. However, when she confesses that she is legally divorced but has not had her Catholic marriage annulled and doesn't care to, they decide to break up--but end up sleeping together, instead.
He realizes his sin, goes to Confession, and endeavors to put the whole thing behind him. He begins to court Angie. Then, as he's decided to propose, Trihn shows up at his doorstep with news that she's pregnant.

Thrown into a tailspin, he nonetheless manages to convince her not to have the abortion she'd planned. Further, he decides to dedicate his life to being a good father. To him, this means breaking up with Angie, moving into the basement of his apartment complex and giving Trihn his old place, and sharing in the responsibilities of full-time parenthood in a platonic relationship with her. However, she insists on a legal marriage in order to protect their child's interests. So they begin their unusual life as husband and wife, living in separate apartments, but nonetheless dealing with all the issues of marriage--finances, chores, and caring for their son Joseph.

I have to admit, at one point I almost tossed the book away because I was mad at Stan. First, he makes a really stupid mistake, giving into temptation with a woman he barely knew--but knew enough to believe she was wrong for him. Then he throws away his chance at a wonderful marriage to a great girl because he didn't think a part-time father-son relationship was good enough for his kid. Was this guy just too proud, or did he have a martyr complex?

However, Christopher's excellent writing had me sucked in; I had to know how it turned out.

I'm so glad I did.

Christopher writes eloquently and realistically about the issues of parenting--from the typical first-time parent misunderstandings to the ordinary touching moments when love overwhelms you. As we watch Stan struggle to make the "just friends" marriage work, we nonetheless see the issues any marriage faces: the struggle for private time when a baby has 24-7 demands, making sacrifices in one's career to accommodate the needs of the family; even the issues of sex in a relationship and the mixing of cultures as he becomes part of Trihn's Vietnamese family. A cast of friends from varying lifestyles brings depth and new points of view: his friend Jim, who has the big Catholic family Jim had aspired to; Rory, who until near the end of the book was content to just live with his lover; and Xuan, who was struggling with the American Dream life--a doctor married to a doctor, he and his wife worked opposite shifts, which meant he and Stan often "Mr. Mommed" together.

The male point of view dominates the story, making it not only a great read for us ladies, but also for the guys who like well-done literature that doesn’t involve handguns, spaceships, or longswords. (It's got cars, though!) And although in the end, Trihn not only gets her annulment but converts and agrees to marry Stan, it's a fantastic, believable look at how two people can grow in love without physical romance.

Order at Amazon.

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