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Monday, November 8, 2004

Waiting for the World to End is a newly published novel whose main character is suffering the emotional fallout of an abortion he urged on his college girlfriend.

As the dustjacket says:

In our culture of polarized public opinions, Waiting for the World to End tells a surprisingly different story—one that calls readers back to the wisdom of their own hearts and spirits. Waiting for the World to End's main characters deal in different ways not only with abortion, but also with Christianity and sexual and emotional ethics, and make it hard to pigeonhole sinners and saints.

Raised in upper-class Boston as the only child of two economists, Thomas Olsen feels like a perpetual outsider. Athletic and poetic, he eventually settles with more kindred spirits in suburban Indiana. But no one knows that Olsen is hiding a devastating secret: he and his former fiancée agreed on the abortion she had during their graduate school years, after which Olsen abruptly called the wedding off and hit the road running, leaving Alexandra in his dust—dust of the personal pain he couldn't put into words.

As English department chairman and basketball coach at an Indiana high school, Olsen endears himself to the locals, yet despite his popularity, he can't shake the loneliness that dogs him. After years of keeping a guilty silence around part of his past, his body and soul have learned to lead separate lives.

Then, at 41, Olsen develops a father-son bond with Ben Wendling, his student and player, and falls in love with Ben's enigmatic married mother. With Mary and Ben, the missing pieces of Olsen's life somehow feel restored—until a surreal accident changes the course of all their futures.

Olsen, Mary, and Ben search for themselves in sports and spirituality, in the words of the great modern poets and novelists, in each other—and always in ways that include readers as both observers and participants in the journey.

From the recurring backdrop of the wistfully beautiful Indiana Dunes to the wilds of the Arizona desert, Olsen, Mary, and Ben struggle with timely and timeless problems. Their story creates a path away from the confines of polarized opinions to the wide open spaces of empathy and insight—spaces that give each of us room to grow.

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