I can understand writing a story that delves into prejudices and stereotypes of different people. The problem I have with the Preacher’s Son is the giant emphasis on all the stereotypes and prejudices, which make it feel like the storyline is in the 1950s-1960s South and not the 21st century. It is incredibly difficult to wade through and get past every single stereotypical thing about racism in order to actually find a story within this book. Bigotry about African American and white relationships are shoved down the reader’s throat, along with the stereotypes about male models and the modeling industry.
From the beginning, you are introduced to Jeremy Ferguson who is not only a white preacher’s son but also someone who goes his own way in life and against everything his father wants him to do. Instead of following his father into religious life, he becomes a male model. Immediate animosity with his father and awkwardness, at least throughout two-thirds of the storyline, reign supreme. Then we are introduced to Jeremy’s girlfriend, Aura Vanderleigh. She is African American, while his family is southern white baptist, so welcome to the anxiety which pervades throughout the book.
There is a scene in the book where Jeremy’s father becomes a witness to a very romantic scene between Jeremy and Aura and all of a sudden he has an epiphany that Jeremy isn’t a gay man (just like Jeremy has always said) and his attitude towards Aura changes. That is a little out of the blue and odd.
I felt like there is just too much the author is trying to put in this story. She throws in too many other story lines. For instance, there is Jeremy’s cousin and his girlfriend (who is also African American) and how they have hidden their relationship for their entire high school life and she gets pregnant (stereotypical) and her father throws her out of the house. This should and could have been another book. It detracts from what could have been a well-written story about how the preacher’s family, who is mired in bigotry, has to come to terms with Jeremy and Aura’s relationship and how Aura’s family has to come to terms with the fact that Jeremy is there to stay by Aura’s side.
It was painfully hard to read some of the dialogue without rereading sections to make sure I hadn’t gone back 50 years to segregation and the deep south and then jumped forward to the 21st century for the other story line and specific family members that are thrown in. I wanted the author to stop imposing the same old fashioned rhetoric within the families’ dynamics and show us that even though they were hard-headed and very stupid at times they were still people trying to change.
-Reviewed by Khriste