The Least of These


Journalist Scott Harrington sets out to write a documentary on the lives of three homeless men. He hopes to win a prestigious award and his father’s respect. In the process, he uncovers stories of heartbreak, trauma, and rejection, causing him to revisit his own tragic past and the guilty...


Journalist Scott Harrington sets out to write a documentary on the lives of three homeless men. He hopes to win a prestigious award and his father’s respect. In the process, he uncovers stories of heartbreak, trauma, and rejection, causing him to revisit his own tragic past and the guilty secret that he holds.
Claire Bassett has been searching for her husband who went missing a year ago. The attentions of another man cause her to question if she should continue to search or move on with her life. As Scott and Claire’s stories overlap, will there be restoration or rejection?








Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. ~Matthew 25:37-40 NIV

I sat bolt upright, not quite sure what had roused me. Did I hear voices and a slamming door downstairs or just imagine them?

The sirens screaming in the distance were real. The alarm clock glowed 4:15 AM. in neon red. I lay wide awake with no sleep left in me.

Climbing out of my bed, the November chill sent shivers down my arms. I inched the bedroom door open. Night sconces cast shadows in the darkened hallway, fingers of light reaching down the wall. Thick carpeting absorbed the noise of my steps. The sirens still shrieked their warning call somewhere far off. My stomach churned. I held my hand over it to ward off that sick feeling.

Lights on the first floor sent a softer glow up the stairway. Reaching Edwin’s door, I rotated the knob. Light didn’t penetrate into the dark room, but small fissures from the gap in the door confirmed an unused bed, still made from yesterday, neat and smooth, pillows plumped like Leticia always left them. How could he be out at 4:15 in the morning? My heart raced, my mind grabbing at any possible explanation. A choked sob arrived from below. I hurried toward the stairs. As I stepped down the wide, curved staircase, my hand gliding on the smooth, polished surface of a massive wood railing, Leticia appeared at the bottom.

“Go back to bed, Scott.” Red eyes and a husky voice betrayed her as she climbed toward me.

“Where’re my mom and dad?” Where was Edwin? Leticia touched my shoulders to turn me around and motion me back upstairs. I lay awake until daylight, my pulse racing, unable to still my trembling hands.


I didn’t see my parents in the morning. They made poor Leticia break the news to me. How typical. The second person to tell me was the morning news anchor. After a cheerful “good morning” and a wide-angle shot of a brilliant fire-orange sunrise, he affixed a somber expression for the next segment on his scripted card.

“Edwin Harrington, sixteen-year-old son of the prominent defense attorney Charles Harrington, was found dead last night from an apparent overdose. A man from the night cleaning company discovered Harrington’s body under the bleachers of the Ravenwood High School’s football field.”

I waited to hear my name. But he didn’t know. He couldn’t, because no one did. I took my secret and hid it deep inside my guilt.


Discussion Questions

Question 1: What was Scott's motivation for wanting to win a journalistic award? Why was it so important?

Answer 1: Scott sought his father's approval. He lived in his brother's shadow, even following his brother's death.

Question 2: What emotions did Claire experience when she packed to move from her home?

Answer 2: Claire felt powerless. Moving felt like giving up all hope of Andrew's return.

Question 3: A year had passed without any word from her husband, yet Claire was still married. What emotions did she experience when Jonathan showed interest? Was it right or wrong to allow that friendship to grow?

Answer 3: Jonathan reminded Claire what it felt like to be an attractive woman. She remained faithful, but the conflict raged internally.

Question 4: Why did Scott change his mind about using D.J. for the third bio?

Answer 4: Despite his initial concerns, D.J. was a loyal and protective friend to Pete. Scott saw D.J. reading his Bible. He was not characteristic of others living on the street.

Question 5: Stella was an anchor for Scott, yet he failed to recognize her true feelings? Why?

Answer 5: Scott was self-absorbed with his childhood, his guilt in knowing of his brother's addiction, and his father's disappointment. He couldn't see past those things to recognize the future that he could have with Stella.

Question 6: Tyler voiced his concerns about being part of the documentary. What were his concerns, and were they valid? What was Scott's reaction?

Answer 6: Tyler didn't want the worst part of his life to be written for all the world to see. He didn't want his father to be hurt by exposing his failure. He compared it to Scott's own family and asked how he would feel. Scott hadn't considered that on a personal level.

Question 7: Scott and Andrew had both failed their brothers. How were the situations alike? How were they different?

Answer 7: Both situations were catastrophic resulting in death. They differed because Scott's brother's death was a result of his own choices. Matthew's loss was an accident.

Question 8: Claire relentlessly looked for Andrew for one year. When they reunited, she needed answers before taking him back. What were the issues and why was it so important at that moment?

Answer 8: Andrew had been emotionally unstable following the accident. Claire needed to know that he wouldn't disappear each time he felt overwhelmed. She leads him back to the gospel message to help him understand that he can't atone for his sin. Christ has already done that.

Question 9: When the documentary is completed, Scott struggles with the decision to submit it. What is Stella's advice?

Answer 9 Stella reminds Scott that it's never the wrong decision to do the right thing. He also reminds him that he already knows what is right.

Question 10: Tyler shares a quote at graduation that is designed to inspire others to look beyond themselves and reach out to someone in need. Can you share a time when you have done that? What was the result?

Answer 10: Answers vary.

Reviews (1)

by PBG M.

Ms. Neely has a gift for storytelling. The Least of These will touch your heart as you struggle along with the characters. The book is beautifully written, and the characters come to life. There aren’t “homeless people” in the story – there are human beings with real stories to tell. That is true in life as well. Thank you to Ms. Neely for bringing the issue of homelessness out into the open, and reminding us that there really is no “least of these” since we are all valued in the Lord’s eyes. This is a wonderful, compelling story. Ms. Neely has done it again! Karen