As a novel, I found this less satisfying than the previous two books about Calvin because the narrative seemed episodic, rather than an expression of a writer's fully realized vision of time, place, and plot. Simply put, the story jumps from one anecdote to the next: this happened, and this, which made me think about ---, but then this happened...
Such a presentation may well resonate with people able to identify themselves with the author or his experiences. But I could not see what distinguishes this from other coming-of-age memoirs written by Western men, except that Calvin's life seems to have become more and more insular over the course of the trilogy.
I could not identify with the author or his experiences, but it was certainly easy to identify the characters and settings described: n.b., described, not created. To most American evangelicals and fundamentalists, Schaeffer's family of origin is well known for its attempts to define and arguably circumscribe the ideal of Protestant orthodoxy. Caricatures of the family in this book extend even to their habits of dress, which is interesting given the writer's apparent agenda of reclaiming his story from the lore of his family.
Much about the circumstances of the author makes me uncomfortable, but I admit that the novel succeeds in at least two areas. First, it provides literary exegesis of the erotic imagination of an American boy. Second, it virtually assures that no further hagiographic treatment of his family and their mission can take place without somehow addressing issues raised by Schaeffer's books, some of which are mental illness and abuse.
The book surely reads differently for those who do not place Frank Schaeffer in context of his family of origin and of a career developed with family support and connections. But my guess is that this ramble is of greatest interest to those who recognize Edith -- er, ELSA in her trim black suit teaching Bible study in the great room of the chalet. So if you do not know or know of the Schaeffers, the book is a fast, uncomplicated read. If you do know or know of the Schaeffers, you may find yourself wondering whether reading the book makes you party to the sin of detraction. I am thinking about that, myself. A lot.