The Touch, by Patricia Hickman

Even though it’s not Christmas, I picked up Patricia Hickman’s holiday-season novella, The Touch, because I’ve read and enjoyed many of her other books. The story is based on a picture by Ron DiCianni, which is a modern depiction of the biblical account of the sick woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ robe and was healed.

In this story, Sydney, a young mother of two, is on the run from her abusive husband. She feels she has no one to turn to, since her father Wade, a pastor, “had never been able to embrace all of her, but rather just the presentable parts, the ones that looked good to his church.” To survive, Sydney works as a maid in a seedy motel and befriends one of the prostitutes who live and work there, while attempting to shield her children from the sleazy atmosphere. (By the way, the details of the prostitution operation are not at all explicit.)

Sydney’s parents receive a vague indication that all is not well with their daughter. Although for a time Wade tries to ignore his feelings of guilt and concern, he eventually decides to go after her, but he must endure some painful and humbling experiences on the way.

Something I found odd about this book is that it seems to have two protagonists. I still have no idea if the main character is supposed to be Sydney or Wade. I understand that the story is about both of them, but I felt a bit yanked back and forth between scenes.

While I don’t feel that this story is Hickman’s best work, it is an enjoyable read, full of vivid descriptions of characters and circumstances, natural-sounding dialogue, and a touch of humor. The ending is satisfying without being unrealistically perfect.

My rating: 4/5

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