Toronto Book Review



In “The Ninth Passage,” Dale Cloninger crafts a provocative and thought-provoking tale that delves into the complexities of love, societal norms, and personal redemption. Set against the lush backdrop of Clearwater, Florida, this novel invites readers to navigate the turbulent waters of forbidden romance and community scandal.

Dale O. Cloninger, a professor emeritus at the University of Houston-Clear Lake and former Dean of the School of Business, leverages his academic background to weave a narrative that is both compelling and intellectually engaging. Drawing inspiration from actual events, Cloninger’s “The Ninth Passage” transcends its fictional framework, offering a nuanced exploration of morality, resilience, and the human condition.

At the center of the story is Alec Driver, a WWII veteran who reinvents himself as a high school choir teacher. Utilizing the GI Bill, Alec earns an advanced degree in music and secures a teaching position in a small town on Florida’s west coast. His passion for music and dedication to his students earn him respect and admiration. However, his life takes a controversial turn when he falls in love with Tracy Ashbury, a seventeen-year-old student in his choir.

Cloninger’s portrayal of Alec’s infatuation with Tracy is delicate yet unflinching, capturing the intensity of their forbidden love and the ensuing fallout. The relationship between Alec and Tracy becomes the catalyst for a series of events that ignite community outrage and moral conflict. The vivid descriptions of Clearwater and the intricacies of small-town life serve as a rich backdrop for the unfolding drama, immersing readers in the societal pressures and expectations that shape the characters’ lives.

Add this book to your reading list and immerse yourself in the intricate world of Alec Driver and the community that shapes his destiny.

Purchase the Book Today on Amazon.

Rating: 5/5 Stars
Reviewer: Isabella Tory
Date of Review: June 5, 2024

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