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In 1980, teenagers Evan and Mae decide to elope when they discover Mae is pregnant. Evan realizes his Dutch Canadian parents are going to be upset when they find out he’s married to a girl who isn’t from Dutch background—he’s often heard the saying, “If you ain’t Dutch, you ain’t much.” Evan also knows that Mae’s ex-military father isn’t going to be impressed with the guy who got his daughter pregnant and then ran off with her. Still, Evan and Mae take the leap and begin a life together filled with love that “would wax and wane again and again over the years.” 

In this series of linked stories spanning decades, told from Evan’s perspective, disappointments, chaos, laughter, temptations, reproductive trials, arguments, an enduring and evolving sexual relationship, housing calamities, hilarious misadventures, jealousy, animal rescues, foolish decisions, aging, and, most of all, love shape Evan and Mae’s marriage.  

Though Evan wants to do things right for Mae’s and his family—eventually they become the parents of four children—something always seems to go wrong, leaving him with doubts and “ritual bouts of regret.” A bumbler with embarrassing phobias, Evan seems to land on his feet every time. Refrains of the Christian faith in which he was raised echo in his life: Psalm 23, the Lord’s Prayer, and Jesus’ encouragement to consider the lilies and not to worry.  

In Moonshine Promises, author John Van Rys, an English professor at Redeemer University in Hamilton, Ont., introduces readers to realistic, well-drawn characters who navigate—sometimes well, sometimes not so well—the complexities of a broken world where choices made in youth can irrevocably shape futures. Laugh-out-loud scenes and tearjerkers converge on the pages of this delightful collection. Van Rys’ narrative contains profanity and instances of humor that readers might consider bawdy. (Resource Publications)

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