Friday, September 19, 2014

To The Heights: A Novel Based on the Life of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati (TAN Books)

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati is a saint who has been receiving a lot of attention in the Catholic world as of late. Perhaps, it was because he didn't live that long ago (from 1901 to 1924). Maybe it was because he died at the very early age of 24. Or it could be that he was just an "ordinary" man, and not a member of the clergy, thus we see someone we can relate to and identify with. No matter the reason, he is a special figure who we could all benefit to learn more about. Brian Kennelly looks to provide us this knowledge in his latest book To The Heights.

To The Heights begins not with the birth of Pier Giorgio Frassati, but his death, more specifically a funeral procession. Two boys living at the Provincial Institute for Children are pretending to be sick. However, they are not doing it just to get out of classes or to raise mischief. Instead, they are pretending to be sick so they can sneak off to see their friend. Their friend isn't some boy from another school, but Pier Giorgio Frassati. He had passed away recently, and they wanted to attend the funeral procession of a man, a friend, who had stopped by to visit them many times and always made them feel important. This theme of Pier's love for mankind presents itself many times over in this book.

After this surprise opening, we are then taken back to the life of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati. We see him first as a young boy born into a household of privilege. A drunk man comes to his household looking for food. How many of us have not experienced a very similar scenario before? To Pier's dismay, his father turns the homeless man away empty-handed. Pier begs his parents to reconsider and the next day they take him a loaf of bread. However, the man was drunk when they found him, so they didn't leave him the bread, and his father rubbed it into Pier that he was right.

We see other touching stories about Pier visiting the sick or connecting with some of the outcasts of society. However, we also see amazing stories that speak to the fire and passion of people in their 20s standing up for a cause they believe in, like when Pier fought against the Black Shirts. The most amazing story of all in this book happened in the last chapter. With Pier's death, thousands of people from all walks of life showed up to honor him. His parents finally realized how special their son was, and what an impact he had on the world. It took his death, but Pier finally accomplished his greatest challenge...bringing his family to Christ.

Like the subtitle says, To The Heights is a novel based on the life of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati. It is not a biography per se (If you are looking for that, check out A Man of the Beatitudes by Blessed Pier's sister, Lucianna Frassati), but instead would fall into the category of historical fiction. That means some minor details required creative liberties to be taken by the author, so that he could paint a captivating picture of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati. I highly recommend this book to all Catholics, young and old. Be sure to check out Brian Kennelly's other book Two Statues.

This book was provided to me for free by Saint Benedict Press in exchange for an honest review. If you found this review helpful, please click here and hit Yes!