A Review of
The Truth of these Strange Times

In Adam Fould's novel The Truth About these Strange Times we meet Howard McNamee, an everyman of the heart. On nearly every page lies the contention that heart is at the centre of our humanity. The questions: what is the heart? how do we judge the heart? and how do we repair it? are eloquently approached.

Fould's definition of the heart is reflected by Howard's resilient life as an overweight, intellectually-slow soul, through his innocence, vulnerability and ultimately love. The adage that we can not judge by appearance, by skill, or even by usefulness but only by discovering the subtle motivations of the heart is confirmed both in the homeward-bound plot of the central characters and their relationship.

Relationship magnifies and sends the inner life of Howard streaming outward toward his protege Saul Dawson-Smith, a young lad of ten who shares virtually nothing in common with Howard other than a burdensome destiny and a need to be loved. Howard does in fact love Saul even though this love of a twenty-eight-year-old man for a ten-year-old boy is so easily misconstrued and viewed purulently by a heart-calloused public.

The journey of both Saul and Howard involves home-leaving and homecoming. It is a painful, exhilarating adventure jam-packed with curtailed dreams, forgiveness of others, and self-forgetfulness. The love learned and shared between the characters is extended beyond themselves and released to others less fortunate, especially those exiled and prejudged by society.

Howard's various inabilities and Saul's restrictive, privileged life could never have predicted the way things turn out for both of them. It seems that something beyond themselves guided them, protected them, and set them on the way to freedom.

In reading The Truth About These Strange Times I felt a softening of my own heart and an encouragement to become more transparent: flaws, abilities and all. The book also cautioned me of the ever so easy habit I have of judging others before allowing their heart to speak. The life of these two fictional characters provides a more than adequate template by which to overcome prejudice and stereotype.

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