The Rage by Temujin Hu is ugly and beautiful at once. It is the story of two men brought together by violence and loss. This is a story that dissects the human condition by revealing the origins of pain and the power of rage born of hurt. It is a dark tale that, if you stick with it, pays off in faith and pure love.
Roland is a seventeen-year-old living with his parents in a low-income metropolitan area. He is a high school dropout and a budding professional thief. His mother is a junkie who sells herself for drugs. His father is a truck driver who is rarely home. There is constant discord in the house. Roland is left to find his own way in the world. When Roland and the man he believed was his father discover Roland’s mother dead in their home, the bottom falls out of the teenager’s fragile life. Even though Roland has Vanessa, a girl from the neighborhood who believes in him, the loss of his family and his neglected childhood overwhelm him. The anger that Roland has collected over his lifetime leads him to decompensate to a sub-human level of existence. After committing several extremely violent crimes, Roland takes on the persona of Red Ghost, a psychotic serial killer. He represents the weaknesses in human beings that make us susceptible to dark and disturbing behaviors.
Nicolas is a successful business man with a wife and young daughter. After securing a big account for his company and purchasing his family’s dream home, Nicolas’ life is forever changed when his family is murdered by the Red Ghost. While Nicolas survived the attack that took his wife and child, his grief morphs into a yearning to kill the man responsible for the crime. What follows is a complete overhaul of Nicolas as a man and as a person. Nicolas fails to accept that he should hand over his need for revenge to God, but in the end, he transforms into a Christ-like character when his death leads to redemption for both men.
This book is brilliant. It gets down to the base level of human brokenness and illustrates that God shows up no matter how hard we fall or how lost we become. I have never read a book that illuminates the power of grace in such an exceptional manner. Hu writes about the presence of God’s love and forgiveness even when human beings commit terrible acts. The inclusion of Vanessa and Janie, two women who care for both men, demonstrates the need for all of us to see the good in others.
On the surface, The Rage is a tale of incredible violence, yearning for vengeance, and pervasive hopelessness. As the story untangles itself through the lives of Roland, Nicolas, Janie and Vanessa, hope and love are revealed. The moral is simple: We are all worthy of love and acceptance no matter what we have done in the past.
The Rage is an exceptional read. I highly recommend it.
Melissa Brown Levine
Independent Professional Book Reviewers