Thomas, a retired priest, is shopping at the Hillsborough, NC farmer’s market when he feels a tiny hand grip his pinkie finger. He looks down to see a small boy, who he soon finds out is named Army, and a slightly older boy standing nearby. The little boy seems magically drawn to Thomas for reasons unknown to the retired Episcopal priest.
Turns out Army, along with his brother, Robert, is at the market with his father, Mark, and hangs on to Thomas as his father continues his shopping. Not until he addresses his son by name does Army react: “Please don’t call me that name. I hate it. My name is Belinda.”
The discussion obviously causes Mark pain, and he rushes the boys into his truck and out of the parking lot, leaving Thomas to wonder what just happened. He ponders the encounter as he walks home with his Red Flyer wagon, ready for a sumptuous breakfast with his husband, Joe.
Thomas and Joe became a couple more than 30 years earlier, when Thomas was a priest in Philadelphia and Joe was a carpenter repairing the church. Robert and Belinda remind them of how they came to be fathers to Sean in the late 1980s, and they recall both the joys and difficulties of that time. They decide that Mark will be their new son, while Robert and Belinda will be their grandchildren.
As Mark’s family begins a legal battle to wrench custody of the children from him, Thomas and Joe support the little family through the ups and downs of the conflict, even though no one is certain how the struggle will end. Complicating the situation is Dr. Daniel Lillie, a French Algerian physician completing an 18-month residency at Duke, who has fallen for Mark … who is surprised he returns the affection.
Mac Rountree has written a complex and compelling narrative of people and families that readers will genuinely feel they know and love, a story filled with faith and a touch of magic. This very modern love-of-all-kinds story will stay in the hearts and minds of readers long after the last page.