Although No One Ran to the Altar is a part of Don Trowden’s Normal Family Trilogy, the family in this series is nowhere close to being a normal family. I have not read the first book of this series, yet I did not find myself confused or lost while reading this second book of Normal Family Trilogy. On the contrary, I felt as if I have known this dysfunctional family from somewhere — thanks to the clear and relatable writing of the author. Throughout the read, only one question bothered me: why did the Pendergast family give away all their inheritance to their servants? I could not comprehend it, but I had to know because the fact that Pendergast’s servants were lavishly on their inheritance came up several times.
After George Pendergast’s death in the first book of the series, No One Ran to the Alter begins with his grandson, Albert, killing himself after living only a few months with his dad, Ned. In spite of the fact that Albert had been talking about committing suicide for many years, the news of him actually shooting himself shocked his siblings, Henry and Lucy. They both blamed their father and his insensitive ways to be the final push towards Albert’s mission suicide.
Anyway, now Henry and Lucy had to decide who would take the responsibility of taking care of their dad, Ned. Both of them have moved on and away from their dysfunctional life. Lucy was married to Larry, and Henry was married to Laura and had two kids. Henry had been going to therapy to get some clarity into everything that had happened in his family for years. He walked down the memory lane many times, and just wanted to get out of therapy now. His therapist had been pushing him towards confronting Ned for not standing up to Vicki, Ned’s second wife, which destroyed their father-son relationship over the years.
No One Ran to the Altar by Don Trowden has a lot of depth. Pendergast family can be made a benchmark of a dysfunctional family. The negative impact of parents’ ignorance is evident in the lives of Henry and Albert. Albert, who is an intelligent soul with emotional immaturity, feels restricted and intellectually uninspired. He wishes to create and do something original but receives no moral support from his mother, Eve, and no financial support from his father, Ned. Eve is more than happy to push Albert towards completing his PhD in Math but fails to understand and encourage his inclination towards music.
Henry, on the other hand, is always the peacemaker in the family. He hates that his mother smothered Albert too much, and he despises that his father never lent a helping hand to Albert, Lucy, and Henry. Henry has so much emotional baggage, yet he finds himself incapable of hating his father. Even though Henry loves his wife, he cannot seem to get over his first love, Chloé, who disappeared from his life with no explanation.
I, as a reader, have enjoyed all the ups and downs of the Pendergast family. The characters are complex just like real humans. It was impossible to simply love or hate any character. Each of them has a story that needs to be read before forming an opinion about them. If you are a reader, who loves reading about family drama with complex characters, then this book is definitely for you.