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Book Review: Trial and Commitment

Trial and Commitment. J. Gasparich. AuthorHouse, March 8, 2017, Trade Paperback and E-book, 286 pages.

Reviewed by Paige Doepke.

In Trial and Commitment, author J. Gasparich explores the near-misses in life that completely shift the path on which a person was originally headed. He uses two characters, Michael and Mark, both young men about the same age, to tell a somewhat heavy story about moral obligation versus obligation to family.

Michael, a medical student in Chicago, is dealing with the transition from medical school into the fire academy. His decision puts a strain on his relationship with his father, a surgeon, and ends a long-term relationship with his girlfriend. However, he believes in himself and feels a strong obligation to the people of Chicago to become a firefighter.

Mark, a good-hearted immigrant from Chechnya with a checkered past, is presented with the opportunity to help his family who is in a dire situation back home. Unfortunately, it would force him to become a major player in a catastrophic terrorist attack. Like Michael, Mark must turn away from family obligations to do what is morally right.

Both characters face a major life event, one most people face in young adulthood—the opportunity to choose yourself and your future over your family’s idea of your future. I think the way Gasparich presents the concept of choosing ones’ destiny, through characters who are so different, is fascinating.

Michael and Mark are living parallel lives, though very different versions. While Michael is learning to protect the city, Mark is involved in a plot to ruin it. In the midst of it all, both characters are given the opportunity for love, and both have to fight for that love.

To me, the most suspenseful part of this story is finding out which direction Mark chooses to go in his life—good or bad. 

What I really loved about this novel was Gasparich’s ability to make the reader root for Mark in hopes that he makes the right decision. It would have been really easy for Gasparich to villainize Mark, but I love that he made him human, and his ability to do so says a lot about his skills as a writer.

I recommend Trial and Commitment to everyone, especially readers interested in politics, coming-of-age novels, medicine, and law enforcement. 


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