There are some books that I start and I keep reading, not sure exactly why. I finished Everywhere in Chains, by James Casper, in May, before summer officially started, but it’s the kind of book that’s stayed with me.

I didn’t read it quickly (or it didn’t feel quickly) and I don’t know that I liked reading it. I remember having a similar sort of feeling as I read 1984 a few years ago: discomfort egged on by the certainty that what I was reading needed to be read.

It’s easy to have an ideal, but much harder to put it into practice in the nitty mess of everyday life. Casper has written a story woven in time, with people, in a way that carried me along. It was like riding a canoe or raft down a gentle stream.

I found myself invested with these characters, because they were real. They were people with mannerisms and flyaway hair and quirky little habits.

This novel also demonstrated a few concepts that are very hard to tangibly relate to. For example, why is visiting a prisoner a work of mercy? Go ahead, try to explain that to a class of 5th graders. I’ll wait.

But whether you’ve been in a prison or not (I haven’t), Casper makes it understandable and relatable.

I didn’t expect to walk away and consider this a great book, because it was difficult to read. The writing’s stellar, though. The characters are solid.

It is a great book. Highly recommended.