ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Book Review of The Cross Gardener by Jason F Wright A Thought Provoking Book about Death and Grief and Heaven

Updated on February 23, 2014
mactavers profile image

I've lived in Arizona for 69 years (Tucson, Glendale, and Sedona). I love writing about Arizona history, antiques, books and travel.

The Cross Gardner Audio Book Edition

The Cross Gardener, Jason F Wright, Penguin Audio, Read by Lincoln Hoppe
The Cross Gardener, Jason F Wright, Penguin Audio, Read by Lincoln Hoppe | Source

The Cross Gardener

Have you ever driven past those crosses or memorials or shrines alongside of a roadway and wondered about those people who have lost their lives there? Sometimes there are plastic or real flowers and sometimes toys or balloons placed there. Sometimes there are small shrines containing the figures of saints. What were the circumstances of the accident? Had they caused the accident, or were they innocent victims? Who maintains those memorials for the dead? Most of us have questions or thoughts or perhaps even a small prayer for them, but in most instances, we simply drive past involved in the details of our own lives. In the novel, The Cross Gardener, by Jason F Wright (2010) we are introduced to the main character John Bevan who faces a number of issues about the death of his wife and unborn son who have died in an automobile accident. Throughout The Cross Gardener, thought provoking questions such as What happens in the exact moment of death, Is Heaven real?, Are our loved ones, near? Can they communicate with us, and the central question for each person who has lost a loved one: Why did this happen to me and my loved one? Finally, how does one face the reality of their loved one's death and move on with the business of living?

The Story Line

The story opens with the adult John Bevan's statement that he was born by the side of the highway after his mom was killed in an automobile accident. He never knew his biological father, however, John was adopted at age 5 by an orchardist of an apple orchard in Virginia. John is blessed with two other adopted brothers, one who dies in a swimming accident. There are stories related to apples and the work in the orchard and humor related to John's crush on Emma Jane, the only girl John ever loves They marry, have a daughter Lulu, and life is good, until Emma Jane who is pregnant with their son is killed in an automobile accident. Emma Jane. and the son are buried in a cemetery chosen by Emma's parents, but John places two roadside crosses at the site of the accident. The reality of the loss disables John to the point that he neglects his daughter Lulu, and leaves the running of the orchard to his hired men. His only activity is to leave Lulu with his in-laws so that he can spend countless hours by the roadside crosses to be close to Emma and his son Willard. Nothing seems important to John but being there. One day, he meets a man who is painting the crosses and John is so annoyed that this man is caring for the crosses and that he can't be alone in his grief. The man is persistent that his work is that of a Cross Gardener and that his joy is to care for the roadside crosses and other memorials. John is rude, but the Cross Gardener continues to return to the crosses and then he asks John for a ride to other memorial sites and crosses that he cares for. As John begins to talk with the Cross Gardener and takes him to other sites, he is amazed to learn how much the Cross Gardener knows about him and his family. He repeatedly asks the Cross Gardener who he is and where he is from. Is the Cross Gardener real? A ghost? A messenger from Heaven? An angel? The Cross Gardener only hints at answers to John's questions. Meanwhile, John's in-laws worry about their granddaughter Lulu who no longer speaks and has her own issues of grief to confront. The story covers the span of a year, and by the end of the book, the characters have all had to adjust to Emma's and Willard's deaths, and the true identity of the Cross Gardener is revealed. (The identity was not who I had expected, although looking back over the story, there were clues that I had missed.)

The Cross Gardener

Themes and Critique and Jason F Wright

From the story line, many of the themes are obvious: death, grief, coping with the loss, and how to move forward into the future. Many of the concepts of life after death and what takes place at the moment of death have been constant debates for all mankind of all faiths during every age. While, the book explores many Christian themes, it isn't the traditional thinking of a void or limbo, or a Heaven or Hell or a reincarnation. For a few clues to what the author may have intended, I found out what I could about Jason F Wright on Google. Wright isn't a theologian or a clergy. He is an author of seven other books, and countless other editorials and articles for a variety of publications and newspapers. He's quoted as being a writer of political and social ideas. He does indeed live in Virginia with his family, thus the physical locations and details of life in rural Virginia in the book seem accurate. He is described as an American member of the Church of Latter Day Saints, which may or may not have had an influence on his concepts about life after death in The Cross Gardener.

One of the things I didn't like about the book was Emma was "too good." John's memories of her didn't include anything really interesting enough for women readers to identify with. John"s mother-in-law is given only one "real" passage of emotion where she openly shows her grief at Emma's grave. She is without doubt a good grandmother, wife and mother, but her life is focused on her family and picking fancy dresses for Lulu to wear to church. I think Wright's male characters have been given a better range of being real. Toward the end, I felt impatient with John's self absorption, but at the very end, I found myself shedding some tears of real emotion and joy for his discoveries. The overall message is clearly one of hope. I don't think I am alone in liking the book as Amazon Readers have rated The Cross Gardener as 4.5 out of 5 possible stars.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)