Standing on a wind-scoured island off the Alaskan coast, Philip Caputo marveled that its Inupiat Eskimo schoolchildren pledge allegiance to the same flag as the children of Cuban immigrants in Key West, six thousand miles away. And a question began to take shape: How does the United States, peopled by every race on earth, remain united? Caputo resolved that one day he'd drive from the nation's southernmost point to the northernmost point reachable by road, talking to everyday Americans about their lives and asking how they would answer his question.
So it was that in 2011, in an America more divided than in living memory, Caputo, his wife, and their two English setters made their way in a truck and classic trailer (hereafter known as "Fred" and "Ethel") from Key West, Florida, to Deadhorse, Alaska, covering 16,000 miles. He spoke to everyone from a West Virginia couple saving souls to a Native American shaman and taco entrepreneur. What he found is a story that will entertain and inspire readers as much as it informs them about the state of today's United States, the glue that holds us all together, and the conflicts that could cause us to pull apart.
The Mexican village of San Patricio is being menaced by a bizarre, cultish drug cartel infamous for its brutality. As the townspeople try to defend themselves by forming a vigilante group, the Mexican army and police have their own ways of fighting back. Into this volatile mix of forces for good and evil (and sometimes both) steps an unlikely broker for peace: Timothy Riordan, an American missionary priest who must decide whether to betray his vows to stop the unspeakable violence and help the people he has pledged to protect.
Riordan’s fellow expatriate Lisette Moreno serves the region in a different way, as a doctor who makes “house calls” to impoverished settlements, advocating modern medicine to a traditional society wary of outsiders. To gain acceptance, she must keep secret her rocky love affair with artist Pamela Childress, whose troubled emotions lead Moreno to question their relationship.
Together, Lisette and Riordan tend to their community. But when Riordan oversteps the bounds of his position, his personal crisis echoes the impossible choices facing a nation beset by instability and bloodshed.
Based on actual events, propelled by moral conflict, and animated by a keen and discerning sensibility, Some Rise by Sin demonstrates yet again Philip Caputo’s generous and insightful gifts as a storyteller.