We love stories of a tragic fall and sudden return. When the homecoming occurs, the story is complete. It is, after all, the story of the Prodigal Son: the beloved younger child who went to the distant country and then came home again. That is the whole story, or, so it seems.
Even despite the fact that the parable actually ends with the elder son, the narrative arc for the younger son is more open than we might remember. It ends with these words: “‘for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and has been found.’ Then the celebration began” (Luke 15:24). The story of the younger son’s symbolic death has ended; the story of his life has just begun. We are not accustomed to wondering what it was like for that wayward child to learn to live in his father’s house again, or really for the first time.
Abigail Rine Favale’s Into the Deep is, like the Parable of the Prodigal Son, a conversion story. It is indeed the story of a fall and return, but not only. It is also the story of the agonizing, glorious transformation of one learning to live in this new home. In fact, the story Favale tells noticeably leans in that unlikely direction: 72 pages of her book are devoted to the fall and homecoming while the remaining 113 pages are about what comes after.
Into the Deep is far from just one Catholic convert’s memoir, substantially like all the rest popping up on bookshelves in recent years. This is not conversion followed by pontification. It is instead conversion followed by gut-wrenching humility and a testimony to a thoroughgoing transformation within the household of the Church.