Reviews

Review by Rox Burkey (roxburkey.com).

The Call Faithful Endeavors is a story about promises reserved for those who have not been jaded by life. JMA Ziegler creates an interesting situation between Ken and Jenni that started before the age society considers mature. The idealistic approach to life and love is reserved as a part of the firsts one experiences.

Ken is a complex character who Ziegler continually develops throughout the story. He holds the morale high ground between trying to fit in as 9-year-old connected with those boys who are a bit more mature. Though portrayed as different from most of his peers, he simply cares for others very deeply. It takes years for him to understand the position he placed both himself and Jenni in from a place of devotion at a very young age.

Jenni has some hidden problems throughout the story, which the reader has no view into. Her history seems based on being subservient to others, especially boys. The root cause for her youthful acceptance of sex as her lot in life, would have been helpful to the reader. She captures Ken’s heart and devotion because he is not like the typical boys she has experienced. The results are devastating to both of their lives.

The plot is original as well as totally unpredictable. I personally struggled with some of the subjects discussed and the lack of parental acceptance of responsibility for Jenni’s behavior. This reads like a book based on conviction of the author.

One of the toughest things about the story for me is scenes from the juvenile retention center. It is sickening to think that guards or protectors of the kids in these facilities would be so insensitive as to permit kids beating upon one another. After the fact asking questions is not acceptable.  For example, a scene between Hank (the guard) and Ken that starts with questions post one inmate beating up on another and illustrates Ken’s maturity in the segment below.

“It still seems like a victory to me. How did you defeat a kid twice your size?”

“Diablo and Bulldog are just stupid bullies. They’re not smart enough to think for themselves or recognize something new. I learned long ago, the best way to deal with a bully is to become boring. If he gets bored, he’ll stop on his own or at least won’t try as hard. If I had fought back, both of them would have seen it as a challenge, and Diablo could have killed me.”

“What is a kid like you doing in this place?”

Ken replied solemnly, “I loved someone who loved me in return.”

Ken’s simple answer reached into Hank and drew forth a sympathetic response. “They say justice is blind, but I wonder if it’s also thoughtless.”

“Then those of us who think must provide the wisdom for this world.”

Ken’s honestly and simplicity of spirit ignited a deep respect for him in Hank’s mind–a respect that would grow ever stronger over the years.

Hank Mendez, a rookie guard, was prevented from providing intervention to the fight between the inmates, even thought his own conviction suggested he should stop the fight.  Sadly, this is likely not the exception in juvenile institutions.

The ending was unexpected, as it made me appreciate the commitment of Ken to his promises to Jenni over the long term. In speaking with the author, I learned there are additional books planned that will extend this as a series. I recommend this book for folks who like to see human interactions pushed to the limits.

Review by Authors Reading (www.authorsreading.com)

The Call Faithful Endeavors by JMA Ziegler is a contemporary novel written as the memoir of the protagonist, Ken Scrivener. Nine-year-old Ken is bullied into a prank which results in long-term repercussions. Ken is a loner who is sensitive and introspective, self -effacing; an outsider wanting to belong. His desire to belong makes him vulnerable to being used by others. A nine-year-old boy named Jackson Glascoe, who was an extrovert and Alpha male coerced Ken into making a prank phone call to a girl he did not know. The results of this one phone call will haunt Ken the rest of his life and send him on an odyssey of self-discovery and a long, complicated journey, with genuine love as the ultimate goal.
Jenni was very attractive, but was cursed with a weak ego. She wanted to belong to the in-group, the desire was so strong that it precipitated in her becoming the schoolyard tart even if it was only for the privilege of belonging to the “bad” boys. Ken’s fear of being known as a weirdo, crazy or a wimp turns into anger as he witnesses Jenni’s true introverted personality being taken advantage of and instinctively protects her.
The Call deftly explores sexual activity between adolescence girls and their near same-age partners that today could result in the boy being classified as a sex offender. Ken is just a few months older than Jenni; their relationship illustrates the vexing legal and social issues related to the intersection of youth and adolescent sexuality.  The story raises the question does an adolescent girl, 14 or 15, in love with a boy, barely her senior have the competence to consent to sex and is his acceptance of her offer of sex truly statutory rape? Ziegler’s novel attempts to shed light on this controversial but important issue that affects so many families.
The author seems to be well acquainted with borderline personality disorders and the fear of abandonment or rejection as he dwells on the unusual acquaintance that led these two quiet, shy introspective loners to become friends who understand each other. Throughout their school years, puppy love develops as their need to connect deepens. Several childhood encounters deepen their attachment to one another. Ken and Jenni develop co-dependent affection as childhood conflicts are resolved and intensify their love.
The book is a romantic love story about a painful relationship that is subjected to many obstacles. Jenni's mother feels all teenage boys are not to be trusted and all they want is sex. She becomes very distrustful of Ken and his apparent interest in her daughter and works hard to prevent them from seeing each other. Ken stays persistent and hopes that someday they will be together. Throughout his lifelong quest for Jenni, whom he has promised to love and protect, Ken recalls the prank when “your spirit settled in my heart and gave me strength….. In that simple act, we became one.”
JMA Ziegler’s bittersweet novel, The Call Faithful Endeavors, bring two teenagers, Ken and Jenni together one fateful day who find they share the same world and fall in love. This is a book that is not only a great romance story but also a study of how the youth of today are cast into a confusing world created by adults that sexualize teenagers, promotes promiscuity in songs, books and in movies but maintain laws that contradict the world that they created for their children.

2018 JMA Ziegler

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