Crimeson is the true story of Justin Gardner's life. Growing up in the gritty suburb of Sunshine in Melbourne, his father had a penchant for gambling and violence and home life was never stable. Consequently, Justin was shoplifting and committing crime from a very young age. By age 14 he was no longer going to school or living at home; instead he was doing and selling drugs and later associating with men depicted in the notorious Australian Underbelly TV series.
By the age of 22, Gardner was a broken man, suicidal, depressed and spending hours every night plotting to kill a man for revenge. It was at the moment of his deepest, darkest despair that he called out to Jesus, and his life was changed from that moment on. Gardner was able to find a reason to live again, turn his life around and is now giving back to the community in his work as a senior pastor in a suburb in Melbourne, Victoria.
Crimeson delivers Gardner's childhood history in an honest no-nonsense first person narrative. However part of me wondered whether Gardner's tone was bragging a little when it seemed to be lacking a little remorse or shame in certain sections. Perhaps this is because as a teenager, Gardner was lacking it himself, although I am also wondering whether the author has intentionally adopted this tone to make the novel attractive to YA readers - perhaps beginning to face some trouble of their own - in order to deliver the Christian message contained within. The choice of front cover does tend to support this theory.
However what was missing in Crimeson was how the Underbelly crime figures - referenced a few times in the book - and others within the crime network, reacted to Gardner's sudden withdrawal from the scene. Did they make threats? How did Gardner sever his ties with these dangerous people?
Gardner is now leading a fulfilling life giving to others, bringing people to Jesus and seeing 'the lost found and the found crowned' page 172. He tells us much about his dark past and his current work for the Church and his love of God's word, however I would have enjoyed reading much more about his transition, and the challenges he faced within.
Many readers will find Crimeson inspiring, however I just wanted more.
My rating = ***