Monday, March 31, 2014

G275 Book Review of The Frangipani Hotel by Violet Kupersmith

General Information:


Name of Book: The Frangipani Hotel

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9331-8

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Year it was published: 2014

Author: Violet Kupersmith










About the Author: 
(From TLC)

About Violet Kupersmith

Violet Kupersmith was born in rural Pennsylvania in 1989 and grew up outside of Philadelphia. Her father is American and her mother is a former boat refugee from Vietnam. After graduating from Mount Holyoke College she received a yearlong Fulbright Fellowship to teach and research in the Mekong Delta. She is currently at work on her first novel.

Overall theme: 

"Con, if you were listening you would have learned almost everything you need to know about your history. The first rule of the country we come from is that it always gives you what you ask for, but never exactly what you want." (page 10)

1. Boat Story

Short Summary:

A granddaughter looking for an exciting story that should guarantee her an A in history, asks her Vietnamese grandmother to tell her the story of how she came to America by a boat, but instead she gets a different story. The story is told by dialogue with no third or first person narrative.

2. Reception

Short Summary:

Phi's family owns the rundown Frangipani hotel, and Phi recounts a story in first person narrative of meeting a strange and beautiful girl who seems to be familiar with history and people at this establishment and who seems to have an agenda of her own, especially when it comes to Phi and the American visitor.

3. Skin and Bones

Short Summary:

Thuy and Kieu, two Vietnamese-American sisters who hail from Houston travel to Vietnam in hopes of Thuy becoming skinnier. For a while the plan works, but Thuy becomes lonely as well as hungry and very soon she makes friends with an unexpected visitor. The story is written in third person narrative.

4. Little Brother

Short Summary:

In first person narrative, a nameless Vietnamese male narrator details some trips he made through the land of Vietnam, and tells a story of how he was tricked into agreeing taking a dying young man by the name of Minh into a city far away, with an admonition of never giving him the name. For entertainment he tells Minh a story of his life and has to pay for the consequences.

5. The Red Veil

Short Summary:

A nun starts to lose her faith in god and in life and when she shares her troubles with Sister Emmanuel, Sister Emmanuel tells her a story of two sisters and a step-wife, as well as teaching her to cook egg rolls. The story also reveals an interesting past about Sister Emmanuel. The story is written in first person narrative.

6. Guests

Short Summary:

Mia is an American woman who makes a conscious choice to work at Vietnam, lives the daily grind in a country she dislikes among the people she cares nothing for. She also has to deal with her boyfriend Charlie's mistakes and her fate is interesting. The story is written in third person narrative.

7. Turning Back

Short Summary:

Told in first person narrative, Phuong Nguyen is a nineteen year old Vietnamese-American girl who works stocking groceries overnight as well as having an older brother that's kind of a gangster and a disorderly family. One day behind a dumpster she meets an old man who tells her an interesting tale about himself.

8. One-Finger

Short Summary:

Three men who used to be soldiers during Vietnam war known as Poet, Calligrapher and Guitarist get together often and try to create masterpieces unsuccessfully. One night however, something strange happens during their get-together and the Calligrapher has no choice but to tell them a tale he prefers not to tell, as well as ask a favor from his long-time friends. The story is told in third person narrative

9. Dragon Descending

Short Summary:

Mrs. Nguyen is a resident in St. Ignatius who is continuously haunted by her past, as well as seeing very vivid images from the Vietnam War. Her daughter isn't able to to make it for Vietnamese New Years, thus the mother has to create an excuse for her daughter to be able to fly out there.

Personal Opinion:

I was really impressed with the writing style as well as the interesting and fascinating quirky characters that inhabit these pages; my favorites being Phuong from Turning Back as well as two sisters from Skin and Bones. In the first half of the book its pretty obvious how the stories tended to be more on the supernatural and ghostly side. In the latter half, with exception of Turning Back and One-Finger, in particular Guests and Dragon Descending, I had a hard time understanding how they are supernatural, or how they have the supernatural element.

This is for TLC Book Tour

Violet Kupersmith’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, March 3rd:  Bibliophiliac
Tuesday, March 4th:  The Things You Can Read
Wednesday, March 5th:  Savvy Verse and Wit
Monday, March 10th:  50 Books Project
Tuesday, March 11th:  The Written World
Tuesday, March 11th:  Books a la Mode – author guest post
Wednesday, March 12th:  River City Reading
Thursday, March 13th:  Under My Apple Tree
Monday, March 17th:  1330 V
Wednesday, March 19th:  Melody & Words
Thursday, March 20th:  The Relentless Reader
Monday, March 24th:  A Bookish Way of Life
Tuesday, March 25th:  Suko’s Notebook
Wednesday, March 26th:  Lit and Life
Thursday, March 27th:  Too Fond 
Monday, March 31st:  Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Tuesday, April 1st:  Mandy Boles: Life Between Books
Wednesday, April 2nd:  Guiltless Reading
Thursday, April 3rd:  Books and Movies
Monday, April 7th:  The Lost Entwife
Tuesday, April 8th:  Unabridged Chick
Wednesday, April 9th:  girlichef
5 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Saturday, March 29, 2014

G286 E-Reading: Book Review of Wilde Riders by Savannah Young

Name of Book: Wilde Riders

Author: Savannah Young

ISBN/ASIN: B00IDWDWJ8

Publisher: Short on time books

Part of a Series: Old Town Country Romance

Type of book: Country, wealth, dating, romance, adult, short time to fall in love, brotherhood, relationships

Year it was published: 2014

Summary:

FOUR WILDE BROTHERS…ONE WILDE COUNTRY BAND

WILDE RIDERS is the first novel in a spicy new contemporary romance series about four sexy brothers, their small-town bar and their local country band. WILDE RIDERS can be read as a STAND ALONE NOVEL or as part of the SERIES.

Cooper Wilde spent his entire adolescence counting the days until he could escape rural northwest New Jersey. Now at 26, he can’t believe he’s coming back. But his late father’s bar, Haymakers, is in financial trouble and his older brother, Jake, has asked for Cooper’s help.

Riley Smith, 25, is fresh out of her Ivy League MBA program and wants to make an impression on her employer, H & C Bank. Her first solo assignment is a fraud investigation on a business loan they made to Haymakers.

Even though Old Town is less than 90 minutes from New York City, Riley feels like she’s stepped into another world in this remote, one-bar town. Riley can’t wait to do her business and get back to the city as quickly as her sports car will take her…until she meets Cooper Wilde. He’s not like the other guys in this rural town and Riley feels inexplicably attracted to him.

Characters:

The characters were slightly interesting: Cooper, or Coop as he's known, is a successful brother that is best described as intense and is on a path to become a millionaire by the age of thirty. He also has a love/hate relationship with where he came from, which I feel wasn't explored adequately. Riley is a banker and has very negative experiences in dating, especially when it comes to dating Wall street men who do nothing but brag about their achievements. Other characters include Coop's three brothers and Riley's girlfriend. Although I don't recall the names, I recall that the oldest one is a playboy while the younger one is a gentle brother who fought in a war and has issues with appearance, while the youngest one is a shy brother.

Theme:

Love is unexpected

Plot:

The book is written in first person narrative from Riley's and Cooper's points of views, and don't worry, the chapters are named after the character who should be doing the speaking. I think it was me, but I couldn't really sense the chemistry or romance between the main leads, and somehow the book was kind of predictable for me. That is there didn't seem suspense in what would happen.

Author Information:
(from goodreads.com)

born New Jersey, The United States
gender female
website http://oldtowncountryromance.tumblr.com
member since February 2014

Romance novelist Savannah Young grew up in rural northwest New Jersey in a place very similar to the fictional Old Town, which is featured in her books. When she's not at her computer creating spicy stories, Savannah is traveling to exotic locales or spending time with her husband and their bloodhounds.

Opinion:

While the writing was good, I guess it must be me because I guess I wanted a more realistic look at romance where characters take time to fall in love instead of everything happening instantly. However, if you like instant romances then this is the right book to read. Other than that complaint in my case, I liked getting a glimpse of the four brothers as well as the unconventional romance where the character has to hide a part of himself just to get a chance with a girl. This is a lighthearted and short book, so if you're in the mood for that, you've come to the right review.

Quick Notes: This is for Reading Addiction 

3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

G287 E-Reading Book Review of Tea and Primroses by Tess Thompson

Name of Book: Tea and Primroses

Author: Tess Thompson

ISBN/ASIN: B00HV2OCM2

Publisher:  Booktrope

Type of book: Dreams, love, full circle, death, life, moving, becoming a family, relationships, romance, secrets, passions

Year it was published: 2014

Summary:

Nothing is as it seemed in calm, quaint Legley Bay.

Famous novelist Constance Mansfield lived a seemingly straightforward – if private – and somewhat predictable life. Friends, beloved daughter Sutton, a beautiful home, and all the success an author could wish for. A perfect life….but was it?

When a hit and run accident suddenly takes her mother’s life, Sutton finds hidden secrets with her heartbreak. Emotional walls she assumed Constance had built to protect her privacy may have been to protect something – or someone – else entirely. Family and friends return home for support, including her own lost-love, Declan. He’s the first thing she craves to help her cope with her loss and the questions she’s left with, but he’s also the last person she wants to see. Will he be able to put down roots at last?

Can the loss of true love be the making of a life, or is it destined to be the undoing of everything? When money, power and love combine across time, anything is possible.

Characters:

The characters were somewhat distinguishing, but I have to admit that I had a hard time keeping track of who's who as well as their stories. All I recall is that Constance's mother was a very cold woman who wasn't happy with anything, while Constance's father is different than the mother and stayed with her because of Constance. I also recall Declan and his mother Roma who were like family for Constance and Sutton and while there are towns-folks, it was difficult for me to remember their functions.

Theme:

Life is full circle

Plot:

The book uses flashbacks between Sutton and Declan, and that of Constance's life up to her death. Whenever its flashbacks in form of the manuscript that Constance wrote for her daughter, the narrative is in first person from Constance's point of view, and if its modern times between Sutton and Declan, then the narrative goes to third person narrative. I did read multi-generational love story before (Love's Fate, Love's Destiny and Love's Chance which I reviewed on my blog,) and those were believable and well written. This tried to be like the Love Trilogy, but it failed.

Author Information:
(from goodreads.com)

born
in The United States 
gender
female

twitter username

genre

member since
March 2011


Tess Thompson is a novelist and playwright. She has a BFA in Drama from the University of Southern California. 

After some success as a playwright she decided to write a novel, a dream she’d held since childhood. She began working on her first novel, Riversong while her second daughter was eight months old, writing during naptimes and weekends. She considers it a small miracle and the good-nature of her second child (read: a good napper) that it was ever finished. Riversong was released in April 2011 by Booktrope, a Seattle publisher and subsequently became a #1 Nook book and Kindle best seller. Learn more about Booktrope at www.booktrope.com

Like her main character in Riversong, Tess is from a small town in Southern Oregon. She currently lives in Snoqualmie, Washington with her two small daughters where she is inspired daily by the view of the Cascade Mountains from her home office window. 

She was an active member of the theatre community in Seattle as an actor and director during the late nineties. In 2000 she wrote her first full-length play, My Lady’s Hand which subsequently won the 2001 first place prize for new work at the Burien Theatre. 

A voracious reader, Tess’s favorite thing to do is to curl up on a rainy afternoon and read a novel. She also enjoys movies, theatre, wine and food. She is fed emotionally by her friends and family and cherishes relationships above all else. 

Tess will be releasing her second novel, Caramel and Magnolias, in February 2013. She is busy working a historical fiction set in 1930’s Alabama that is based on a short story of her great-great grandmother’s.

Opinion:

I'm sorry to say that this has been a very disappointing and predictable book. (Many stuff I saw come from miles and miles away.) For me personally the conversations tended to be awkward and the idea of life coming full circle, although an interesting one, is executed poorly. Also as well, the way men talked seemed to be unrealistic for me. I liked the way beginning was written, and I seriously thought I'd be awarding it four stars instead of two because of the intriguing idea of why Constance shut herself and everyone around her from the world. After the funeral, her daughter Sutton stumbles upon the manuscript that Constance wrote and finally learns many hidden secrets that her mother has kept. I think for me the story fell at when Constance and Declan began to read manuscript. The writing style was awkward as well as the chapters for sections that Constance wrote. I had a very difficult time connecting to the writing and the characters, unfortunately.

This is for Reading Addiction

2 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Friday, March 28, 2014

G276 Book Review of Across Great Divides by Monique Roy

Name of Book: Across Great Divides

Author: Monique Roy

ISBN: 9780615846682

Publisher: Monique Roy

Type of book: 1930s-1940s? Germany, WWII, Young Adult, Africa, apartheid, escape, help, jewelry, diamonds

Year it was published: 2013

Summary:

Across Great Divides is a timeless story of the upheavals of war, the power of family, and the resiliency of human spirit. When Hitler came to power in 1933, one Jewish family refused to be destroyed and defied the Nazis only to come up against another struggle—apartheid in South Africa.

Sixteen-year-old twins, Eva and Inge, witness their lives in Berlin change before their eyes. Their best friend, Trudy, betrays them when she becomes a member of the Hitler Youth. A valuable family heirloom, a beautiful emerald and diamond necklace, is confiscated by the Nazis as they harass Jewish families and businesses. 

Their younger brother, Max, a member of the underground resistance, sees great danger ahead. Their father, Oskar, a successful diamond merchant, refuses to leave his beloved Germany and believes Hitler will fail. Their mother, Helene, holds her family together under dire circumstances. 

After the devastation of Kristallnacht in 1938, the family flees Germany with the help of the underground resistance after hiding many diamonds. They seek refuge in Antwerp, but war follows them as Belgium is occupied by the Germans. 

A German man, a nun, a countess, and a winegrower help the family escape Europe. They hike over the Pyrenees Mountains while eluding German patrols and Spanish informers. Then, they spend agonizing days on a ship bound for Rio de Janeiro that is targeted by a German U-boat. As Rio’s diamond business is corrupt, they decide to go to South Africa, another diamond market. 

In Cape Town, Eva encounters an impoverished colored woman, Zoe, who is in need of work. The family hires Zoe as their maid. They shield her and her daughter from the dangers they face in the slums of District Six and from the horrors of apartheid, which are all too reminiscent of Nazi Germany.

But, when Max gets into trouble with the South African police over his participation in an anti-apartheid march, will he be subject to imprisonment? 

In a thrilling conclusion, the family comes to terms with the evils of society, both in their memories and current situation in South Africa.


Buy the Book at Amazon
Characters:

The author tries to make characters three dimensional as well as show that yes, they did grow up over time and learned valuable lessons, but again the characters are a bit on the flat side, and I feel that it wasn't explanatory as to why the father wasn't for abolishing apartheid. The main characters would be twin sisters named Inge and Eva who have "Aryan" appearance of blond hair and blue eyes. Its mentioned that they are very close and they tend to be good natured as well as generous. There is their younger brother Max who has activist blood in that he tries to get rid of unfairness wherever he sees it. Helene is the elegant and beautiful mother while Oskar is the father who is good with diamonds.

Theme:

You have more in common than you think

Plot:

This is written in third person narrative from what seems to be everyone's point of view, or at least mostly from Eva's and her friend's point of view. The stories themselves are interesting, but I often felt as if I was looking or reading something that seemed simplistic instead of something that should have been complex. I liked learning and reading about the culture of South Africa as well as thoughts and mindsets, but again, the message and whatnot is a little too simplistic for me. The book as well is more of told rather than show, which rather means that I didn't get a good grip on the characters or their surroundings.

Author Information:
(From the Kit I was given)

Monique Roy loves writing that twitches her smiling muscles or transports her to another time or place. Her passion for writing began as a young girl while penning stories in a journal. Now she looks forward to deepening her passion by creating many unique stories that do nothing less than intrigue her readers.

Monique holds a degree in journalism from Southern Methodist University in Dallas and is the author of a middle-grade book Once Upon a Time in Venice. Monique loves to travel, play tennis, pursue her passion for writing, and read historical fiction. In 2008, she was chosen by the American Jewish Committee's ACCESS program to travel to Berlin, Germany, on the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht, to explore German and Israeli relations along with 20 other Jewish professionals from across the U.S.

Monique was born in Cape Town, South Africa, and her grandparents were European Jews who fled their home as Hitler rose to power. It’s their story that inspired her to write Across Great Divides, her newest novel.

What attracts Monique to historical fiction is taking the factual record as a structure and letting imagination run wild to fill it all in. Historical fiction lets you escape to another time and place; and Monique likes to explore the past so that we can potentially better understand the future.

Her latest book is the historical fiction, Across Great Divides.

Visit her website at www.monique-roy.com.

Connect & Socialize with Monique!


Opinion:

Despite the amazing premise and summary, this book didn't really capture my imagination as I had hoped. I am trying hard to figure out a way to explain why without sounding insulting, which isn't my intention. Still, before doing that, let me mention some of the positives: I liked the research that went into the book as well as mention what was going on and how shocking it was for the main characters. I also found the comparison between apartheid and what the main characters suffered from 1930s up until 1938 to be an interesting one. Its not a combination that one often hears about as well as dares to make. What I found confusing as well as frustrating is that I am unable to decide if the book is written for young adults or for adults? For me the writing style tended to be reminiscent of a young adult novel and there is a lot of "told" scenes. I am also in a bit of disbelief that in Germany during 1930s a Jewish family that deals with diamonds is considered "middle class". Perhaps more of a clarification is needed? I will say this though; if I should have children, this will be one of the books I'll use to introduce them to the history of Holocaust as well as 1950s.

This is for Pump Up Your Books Tour

3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

G298 My boyfriend barfed in my handbag...and other things you can't ask Martha

Title of the book: My Boyfriend Barfed in my handbag...and other things you can't ask Martha

Author: Jolie Kerr

Publisher: Plume

Publishing Date: 2014

ISBN: 978-0-14-219693-9

Summary:

The author of the hit column "Ask a Clean Person” offers a hilarious and practical guide to cleaning up life’s little emergencies

Life is filled with spills, odors, and those oh-so embarrassing stains you just can’t tell your parents about. And let’s be honest: no one is going to ask Martha Stewart what to do when your boyfriend barfs in your handbag.

Thankfully, Jolie Kerr has both staggering cleaning knowledge and a sense of humor. With signature sass and straight talk, Jolie takes on questions ranging from the basic—how do I use a mop? —to the esoteric—what should I do when bottles of homebrewed ginger beer explode in my kitchen? My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag proves that even the most nightmarish cleaning conundrums can be solved with a smile, the right supplies, and a little music.

Other Works:

Although this is her first novel, she has written for other magazines, it looks like, as well as being a columnist for "Ask a Clean Person"

Background of author:
(From TLC)

Jolie Kerr is the author of the popular column “Ask a Clean Person,” which is featured weekly on Deadspin and Jezebel. Her work has also appeared in Fortune, BlackBook, the Urban Outfitters blog, Gothamist, The Hairpin, and The Awl. She has been featured as a cleaning expert in the New York Observer, O Magazine, InStyle, New York Magazine, Time Out New York, Health Magazine, and Parents Magazine. Jolie is a Boston native and graduate of Barnard College, now residing in a teeny, tiny, spotless apartment in New York City.

Theme:

Cleaning (anything) doesn't have to be a chore or something where one pulls their hair out. Try to have fun.

Problems addressed:

Basically, she goes through the basics, gives a whole lot of information about how to clean different surfaces, floors, as well as what beauty things to use to remove stains, or gunk and so forth. (Don't worry, there are charts and instructions in the book.)

Summary of Content:

Not sure how to get bloodstains out or how to clean a floor or ceiling or even a car? Not even sure how to do laundry the right way or how to clean bathroom? Look no further but get this book which gives simple solutions to a lot of conundrums that people have. I do admit that its best read as a reference book or in a relaxing manner without a deadline glaring over one's shoulder.

Thesis:

"In this book we'll cover some basics and some not-so-basics. Both of which will be fun, I promise! The basics will be fun because once we're done here, you'll never again have to sit despondently looking at your only good pan that you've ruined ("ruined"-you didn't ruin it! You just don't yet know how to save it. But stick with me, kid, I've got you covered on that.) or a mop that you don't know how to use (actually? Don't bother learning. Mops are nasty and we'll get into why and what alternatives are.) And, while it may not sound so fun now, it will be AWESOME the first time you have a disaster and realize that, "wait a minute! I KNOW WHAT TO DO HERE! Oh my God, how did this happen?? THIS IS SO GREAT!" (Page xii)

Main points:
*Introduction
*The Kitchen: Clean it, or just set it on fire and be done?
*Cleaning floors, ceilings, walls, and other immovable things
*Le Pissoir (because these things sound fancier in French)
*Get rid of your ladies, seriously, they are revolting
*Here comes the bride, all dressed in...Oh dear, what's that on the bride's dress?
*Laundry. Just...So much laundry, you guys
*Pimp your ride
*The things you really can't ask Martha (or mom, for that matter!)

(It does come with the index by the way!)

Why Its interesting and informative:

I don't know much about house cleaning or laundry or anything else, thus I have to admit that this book is seriously a life saver for me! It also helps that the information is written down and I can go back over it if necessary. I do admit that a lot of it does tend to be overwhelming for me, but I was assured that the more I practice, the less overwhelming it becomes.

Supports thesis:

I don't know if its fun or not, but still, the sense of humor really caught me off-guard because I kept giving the author odd mental looks for being excited about something so...tedious. She does go into a great amount of detail about everything, from littlest to biggest, (literally) and whenever possible, she also makes charts which are helpful when trying to keep in mind what to use or not to use on a floor or counter top and so forth.

Addressing Issues:

I have to admit that old fashioned tips and ways of cleaning are dying out, and I doubt that many are familiar or even care much for cleaning. The book comes as a welcome because it doesn't require one to spend hundreds of dollars on different products and instead it offers simple solutions in one package. The book itself is also short.

Ideas in book vs larger ideas:

The cleaning process itself doesn't have to be done for hundreds of dollars, but instead less than that and many tips and advice in the book is interesting and will not require a huge amount of chemicals too, which is an encouraging fact because how many like being around chemicals?

Agree/Disagree: 

Many of the things I've read in the book, I've asked my mom about them, which caused us to launch into an interesting discussion of the things she knows and doesn't know when it comes to the author's advice. I also imagine that many sections I'll find helpful as I journey through life.

Sources:

While she does mention using some sources, she rarely credits the information with resources, although she did credit someone she knew when it came to cleaning the car, or a tip on how to remove lipstick from collar and so forth.

Conclusion: 

While not a breathtaking read that five star fiction is, it is very helpful and worthwhile to buy and keep and refer to it many times when one is faced with a cleaning problem. I also will mention that the book is best read slowly because I can promise that if you read it too fast, then you'll be overwhelmed by how much information she mentions.

Quick Notes: This is for TLC book tours 

Jolie Kerr’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, March 17th:  Sara’s Organized Chaos
Tuesday, March 18th:  My Tangled Skeins Book Reviews
Thursday, March 20th:  Literate Housewife
Monday, March 24th:  Daily Mayo
Tuesday, March 25th:  Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Thursday, March 27th:  Bookchickdi
Monday, March 31st:  2 Kids and Tired
Monday, March 31st: 5 Minutes for Mom
Wednesday, April 2nd:  A Novel Idea
Monday, April 7th:  A Bookish Affair
Tuesday, April 8th:  Bibliophilia, Please
Monday, April 14th:  Cici’s Theories
Wednesday, April 16th:  The Book Wheel
Thursday, April 17th:  Books a la Mode
Monday, April 21st:  Mockingbird Hill Cottage
5 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Monday, March 24, 2014

G289 Book Review of Then Like the Blind Man; Orbie's Story by Freddie Owens

Name of Book: Then Like the Blind Man Orbie's Story

Author: Freddie Owens

ISBN: 9781475084498

Publisher: Createspace

Type of book: Southern Gothic novel, thunderstom, tornadoes, Pentecostal religion vs Baptists and Atheism, North and South, racism, 1955-1959, mystery, friendship, protection, Kentucky

Year it was published: 2012

Summary:

A storm is brewing in the all-but-forgotten backcountry of Kentucky. And, for Orbie Ray, the swirling heavens may just have the power to tear open his family’s darkest secrets. Then Like The Blind Man: Orbie’s Story is the enthralling debut novel by Freddie Owens, which tells the story of a feisty wunderkind in the segregated South of the 1950s, and the forces he must overcome to restore order in his world. Evocative of a time and place long past, this absorbing work of magical realism offered with a Southern twist will engage readers who relish the Southern literary canon, or any tale well told.

Nine-year-old Orbie has his cross to bear. After the death of his father, his mother Ruby has off and married his father’s coworker and friend Victor, a slick-talking man with a snake tattoo. Now, Orbie, his sister Missy, and his mother haven’t had a peaceful moment with the heavy-drinking new man of the house. Orbie hates his stepfather more than he can stand; a fact that lands him at his grandparents’ place in Harlan’s Crossroads, Kentucky.

Orbie grudgingly adjusts to life with his doting Granny and carping Granpaw, who are a bit too keen on their black neighbors for Orbie’s taste, not to mention their Pentecostal congregation of snake handlers. And, when he meets the black Choctaw preacher, Moses Mashbone, he learns of powers that might uncover the true cause of his father's death. As a storm of unusual magnitude descends, Orbie happens upon the solution to a paradox at once magical and ordinary. Question is, will it be enough?

Equal parts Hamlet and Huckleberry Finn, it’s a tale that’s rich in meaning, socially relevant, and rollicking with boyhood adventure. The novel mines crucial contemporary issues, as well as the universality of the human experience while also casting a beguiling light on boyhood dreams and fears. It’s a well-spun, nuanced work of fiction that is certain to resonate with lovers of literary fiction, particularly in the Southern tradition of storytelling.

Characters:

The characters were fully fleshed out and it was easy for me to keep track of them, of who's who. Orbie is a nine year old boy whose father has recently passed away and he doesn't trust Victor, his mother's new boyfriend. In beginning of the book he's determined to keep to himself and he also likes to get into mischief. However, throughout the book, he begins to change and opens himself up to numerous possibilities both earthly and spiritual. There are also Orbie's grandparents, his grandmother and grandfather. His grandfather is a joking type, especially at Orbie's expense and he is also capable of fierce loyalty to those close to them. He is also best described as stubborn. Orbie's grandmother is a strong woman who is persistent and defends her family against bullies. She is also open-minded and encourages Orbie to get past his negative experiences. Let's also not forget Victor, Orbie's mother's boyfriend who carries a huge secret and seems to take perverse pleasure in upsetting Orbie's mother. There are a lot of more characters, but I worry that the paragraph will be way too long.

Theme:

Nothing can be kept hidden forever

Plot:

The book is written in first person narrative from Orbie's point of view. The speech pattern and style is what I would think of as Southern style where most people are religious. Its also written from a nine-year-old's point of view which means that Orbie is just gaining insight rather than being born with insight. He understands something is going on, but he really can't put his finger on what's going on. There is heavy use of weather and religion as well as hallucinations in the book as well. The book isn't preachy, but religion is contrasted against atheism, and Pentecostal is also contrasted against Baptists, and race also makes an appearance.

Author Information:
A poet and fiction writer, my work has been published in Poet Lore, Crystal Clear and Cloudy, and Flying Colors Anthology. I am a past attendee of Pikes Peak Writer’s Conferences and the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, and a member of Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop in Denver, Colorado. In addition, I am/was a licensed professional counselor and psychotherapist, who for many years counseled perpetrators of domestic violence and sex offenders, and provided psychotherapy for individuals, groups and families. I hold a master’s degree in contemplative psychotherapy from Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado.
I was born in Kentucky but soon after my parents moved to Detroit. Detroit was where I grew up. As a kid I visited relatives in Kentucky, once for a six-week period, which included a stay with my grandparents. In the novel’s acknowledgements I did assert the usual disclaimers having to do with the fact that Then Like The Blind Man was and is a work of fiction, i.e., a made up story whose characters and situations are fictional in nature (and used fictionally) no matter how reminiscent of characters and situations in real life. That’s a matter for legal departments, however, and has little to do with subterranean processes giving kaleidoscopic-like rise to hints and semblances from memory’s storehouse, some of which I selected and disguised for fiction. That is to say, yes, certain aspects of my history did manifest knowingly at times, at times spontaneously and distantly, as ghostly north-south structures, as composite personae, as moles and stains and tears and glistening rain and dark bottles of beer, rooms of cigarette smoke, hay lofts and pigs. Here’s a quote from the acknowledgements that may serve to illustrate this point.
“Two memories served as starting points for a short story I wrote that eventually became this novel. One was of my Kentucky grandmother as she emerged from a shed with a white chicken held upside down in one of her strong bony hands. I, a boy of nine and a “city slicker” from Detroit, looked on in wonderment and horror as she summarily wrung the poor creature’s neck. It ran about the yard frantically, yes incredibly, as if trying to locate something it had misplaced as if the known world could be set right again, recreated, if only that one thing was found. And then of course it died. The second memory was of lantern light reflected off stones that lay on either side of a path to a storm cellar me and my grandparents were headed for one stormy night beneath a tornado’s approaching din. There was wonderment there too, along with a vast and looming sense of impending doom.”
I read the usual assigned stuff growing up, short stories by Poe, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, The Scarlet Letter, The Cherry Orchard, Hedda Gabler, a little of Hemingway, etc. I also read a lot of Super Hero comic books (also Archie and Dennis the Menace) and Mad Magazine was a favorite too. I was also in love with my beautiful third grade teacher and to impress her pretended to read Gulliver’s Travels for which I received many delicious hugs.
It wasn’t until much later that I read Huckleberry Finn. I did read To Kill A Mockingbird too. I read Bastard Out of Carolina and The Secret Life of Bees. I saw the stage play of Hamlet and read The Story of Edgar Sawtelle too. However, thematic similarities to these works occurred to me only after I was already well into the writing of Then Like The Blind Man. Cormac McCarthy, Pete Dexter, Carson McCullers, Raymond Carver, Flannery O’Conner and Joyce Carol Oates, to name but a few, are among my literary heroes and heroines. Tone and style of these writers have influenced me in ways I’d be hard pressed to name, though I think the discerning reader might feel such influences as I make one word follow another and attempt to “stab the heart with...force” (a la Isaac Babel) by placing my periods (hopefully, sometimes desperately) ‘... just at the right place’.
Freddie Owens’ latest book is Then Like the Blind Man: Orbie’s Story.
Visit his website at www.FreddieOwens.com.

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Opinion:

If one is to ask me how to classify this book, I'd really have a hard time coming up with a classification. It has a little bit of everything from what seems to be really memorable novels of the childhood: adventure wise as well as mentions of domestic abuse comes from Adventures of Huck Finn by Mark Twain, while the Southern setting with magical realism and the issue of race as well as Orbie's speech pattern in Southern colloquial seems to come from To Kill a Mockingbird. (Time period was separated by twenty years...) In some ways too I felt that I was reading Secret Life of the Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, although this book really admirably stands out on its own. I also would be remiss in not mentioning how cool the cover is. Also as well when it comes to who's racist and who's not, there is a reversal of roles: the parents and Orbie in beginning are pretty negative to African Americans, while Orbie's grandparents are very respectful to them and encourage Orbie to look past the skin color. Despite it being a boy's book, it has really amazing female character in terms of grandmother. While Orbie's mother had that potential too, I somehow doubt that she'll ever realize it.

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5 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Then Like the Blind Man Chapter Reveal and Kindle Fire HD Giveaway

Title: Then Like the Blind Man: Orbie’s Story
Author: Freddie Owens
Publisher: Blind Sight Publications
Pages: 332
Language: English
Genre: Historical Fiction/Coming of Age
Format: Paperback & eBook
Purchase at AMAZON
A storm is brewing in the all-but-forgotten backcountry of Kentucky. And, for young Orbie Ray, the swirling heavens may just have the power to tear open his family’s darkest secrets. Then Like The Blind Man: Orbie’s Story is the enthralling debut novel by Freddie Owens, which tells the story of a spirited wunderkind in the segregated South of the 1950s and the forces he must overcome to restore order in his world. Rich in authentic vernacular and evocative of a time and place long past, this absorbing work of magical realism offered up with a Southern twist will engage readers who relish the Southern literary canon, or any tale well told.

Nine-year-old Orbie already has his cross to bear. After the sudden death of his father, his mother Ruby has off and married his father’s coworker and friend Victor, a slick-talking man with a snake tattoo. Since the marriage, Orbie, his sister Missy, and his mother haven’t had a peaceful moment with the heavy-drinking, fitful new man of the house. Orbie hates his stepfather more than he can stand; this fact lands him at his grandparents’ place in Harlan’s Crossroads, Kentucky, when Victor decides to move the family to Florida without including him. In his new surroundings, Orbie finds little to distract him from Granpaw’s ornery ways and constant teasing jokes about snakes.

As Orbie grudgingly adjusts to life with his doting Granny and carping Granpaw, who are a bit too keen on their black neighbors for Orbie’s taste, not to mention their Pentecostal congregation of snake handlers, he finds his world views changing, particularly when it comes to matters of race, religion, and the true cause of his father’s death. He befriends a boy named Willis, who shares his love of art, but not his skin color. And, when Orbie crosses paths with the black Choctaw preacher, Moses Mashbone, he learns of a power that could expose and defeat his enemies, but can’t be used for revenge. When a storm of unusual magnitude descends, he happens upon the solution to a paradox that is both magical and ordinary. The question is, will it be enough?

Equal parts Hamlet and Huckleberry Finn, it’s a tale that’s both rich in meaning, timely in its social relevance, and rollicking with boyhood adventure. The novel mines crucial contemporary issues, as well as the universality of the human experience while also casting a beguiling light on boyhood dreams and fears. It’s a well-spun, nuanced work of fiction that is certain to resonate with lovers of literary fiction, particularly in the grand Southern tradition of storytelling.
CHAPTER ONE
EVERYBODY ON EDGE
Thursday, June 6th 1959
Momma and even Victor said I’d be coming to St. Petersburg with them.  They’d been saying it for weeks.  Then Victor changed his mind.  He was my stepdaddy, Victor was.  It would be easier on everybody, he said, if I stayed with Granny and Granpaw in Kentucky.  Him and Momma had enough Florida business to take care of without on top of everything else having to take care of me too.  I was a handful, Victor said.  I kept everybody on edge.  If you asked me, the only edge everybody was kept on was Victor’s.  As far as I was concerned, him and Momma could both go to hell.  Missy too.  I was fed up trying to be good.  Saying everything was okay when it wasn’t.  Pretending I understood when I didn’t. 
Momma’s car was a 1950 model.  Daddy said it was the first Ford car to come automatic.  I didn’t know what ‘automatic’ was but it sure had silver ashtrays, two of them on the back of the front seats.  They were all popped open with gum wrappers and cigarette butts and boy did they smell. 
One butt fell on top a bunch of comic books I had me in a pile.  The pile leaned cockeyed against my dump truck.  Heat came up from there, little whiffs of tail pipe smoke, warm and stuffy like the insides of my tennis shoes. 
It rattled too – the Ford car did.  The glove box.  The mirrors.  The windows.  The knobs on the radio.  The muffler under the floorboard.  Everything rattled. 
We’d been traveling hard all day, barreling down Road 3 from Detroit to Kentucky.  Down to Harlan’s Crossroads.  I sat on the edge of the back seat, watching the fence posts zoom by.  Missy stood up next to the side window, sucking her thumb, the fingers of her other hand jammed between her legs.  She was five years old.  I was nine. 
I’d seen pictures of Florida in a magazine.  It had palm trees and alligators and oranges.  It had long white beaches and pelicans that could dive-bomb the water.  Kentucky was just old lonesome farmhouses and brokeback barns.  Gravel roads and chickens in the yard. 
Road 3 took us down big places like Fort Wayne and Muncie.  It took us down a whole bunch of little places too, places with funny names like Zaneville and Deputy and Speed. 
Missy couldn’t read. 
“Piss with care,” I said. 
“Oh Orbie, you said a bad word.” 
“No.  Piss with care, Missy.  That sign back there.  That’s what it said.” 
Missy’s eyes went wide.  “It did not.  Momma’ll whip you.” 
Later on we got where there was a curve in the road and another sign.  “Look Missy.  Do not piss.” 
“It don’t say that.” 
“Yes it does.  See.  When the road goes curvy like that you’re not supposed to pee.  But when it’s straight, it’s okay; but you have to do it careful cause that’s what the sign says.  Piss with care!” 
“It don’t say that.” 
“Does too.” 
We crossed a big pile of water on a bridge with towers and giant ropey things looping down.  On the other side was Louisville, Kentucky.  After that was just small towns and little white stores with red gas-pumps, farm houses and big barns and fields, empty fields and fields of corn and fields where there were cows and horses and pigs and long rows of tobacco plants Momma said cigarettes was made of. 
I had me a war on all the towns going down.
Tat Tat Tat Tat!  Blam!  There goes Cox Creek! 
Bombs away over Nazareth
Blam! Blam! Boom!  Hodgekinsville never had a chance!
“Let’s keep it down back there!” Victor said. 
“A grenade rolled into Victor’s lap!” I whispered.  “BlamOOO!  Blowed him to smithereens!” 
I wished Momma’d left him back there in Toledo like she said she would.  She was always threatening around like that, but then she would get to feeling sorry and forget all about it.  She’d been mad ever since Victor spilled the beans about Daddy.  Victor was mad too, drinking his beer and driving Momma’s Ford too fast.  After Louisville he started throwing his empties out the window.  
I liked to watch them bust on the road. 
“Pretty country, Kentucky,” Victor said. 
**
It was the end of daytime and a big orangey-gold sun ball hung way off over the hills, almost touching the trees.  The Ford jerked over a ditch at the foot of a patchy burnt yard, thundering up a load of bubble noises before Victor shut it down. 
“Get off me,” Missy said. 
“I ain’t bothering you.” 
“Yes you are.” 
“But Missy, look!” 
A big boned woman in a housedress had come to stand in the yard down by the well.  She was looking into the sun – orange light in her face - standing upright, sharp edged and stiff, like an electrical tower, one arm bent like a triangle, the other raised with the elbow so the hand went flat out over her eyes like a cap.  She stared out of wrinkles and scribbles and red leather cheekbones.   Her nose was sunburned, long but snubbed off at the end, sticking out above a mouth that had no lips, a crack that squirmed and changed itself from long to short and back to long again. 
Missy’s eyes widened.  “Who is that?” 
“Granny,” I said.  “Don’t you remember?” 
I saw Granpaw too, sitting squat-legged against Granny’s little Jesus Tree.  He was turning in one big hand a piece of wood, shaving it, whittling it outward with a jackknife.  The brim of a dusty Panama shadowed his eyes.  In back of him stood the house, balanced on little piles of creek rock.  You could see jars and cans and other old junk scattered underneath.  It was the same dirty white color as before, the house was, but the sun ball had baked it orange, and now I could see at one end where somebody had started to paint. 
As we got out of the car, the big boned figure in the housedress let out with a whoop, hollering, “Good God A Mighty!  If it tain’t Ruby and them younguns of hers!  Come all the way down here from Dee-troit!”  Blue-green veins bulged and tree-limbed down the length of her arms. 
Victor stayed out by the Ford, the round top of my ball cap hanging out his pocket.  A gas station man had given it to me on the way down.  It was gray and had a red winged horse with the word ‘Mobilgas’ printed across the front.  Victor had swiped it away, said I shouldn’t be accepting gifts from strangers.  I should have asked him about it first.  Now it was in his back pocket, crushed against the Ford’s front fender where he leaned with an unlit cigar, rolling between his lips.  The sun was in back of him, halfway swallowed up by a distant curvy line of hilltop trees. 
“Hidy Victor!” Granny called.  “Ya’ll have a good trip?” 
Victor put on a smooth voice.  “Fine Mrs. Wood.  Real fine.  You can’t beat blue grass for beauty, can you?”  A long shadow stretched out on the ground in front of him. 
Granny laughed.  “Ain’t been no farther than Lexington to know!” 
Granpaw changed his position against the tree, leaned forward a little bit and spat a brown gob, grunting out the word ‘shit’ after he did.  He dragged the back of his knife hand sandpaper-like over the gap of his mouth. 
“I want you just to looky here!” Granny said.  “If tain’t Missy-Two-Shoes and that baby doll of hers!” 
Missy backed away. 
“Aw, Missy now,” Momma said.  “That’s Granny.” 
Missy smiled then and let Granny grab her up.  Her legs went around Granny’s waist.  She had on a pink Sunday dress with limp white bows dangling off its bottom, the back squashed and wadded like an overused hankie. 
“How’s my little towhead?” Granny said. 
“Good.”  Missy held out her baby doll.  “This is Mattie, Granny.  I named her after you.” 
“Well ain’t you the sweetest thang!”  Granny grinned so big her wrinkles went out in circles like water does after a stone’s dropped in.  She gave Missy a wet kiss and set her down.  Then her grin flashed toward Momma.  “There’s my other little girl!”
Momma, no taller than Granny’s chin, did a little toe dance up to her, smiling all the way.  She hugged Granny and Granny in turn beat the blue and red roses on the back of Momma’s blouse. 
“I just love it to death!” Granny said.  “Let me look at you!”  She held Momma away from her.  Momma wiggled her hips; slim curvy hips packed up neat in a tight black skirt.  She kissed the air in front of Granny. 
Like Marilyn Monroe.  Like in the movies. 
“Jezebel!” Granny laughed.  “You always was a teaser.”
They talked about the trip to Florida, about Victor’s prospects – his good fortune, his chance – about Armstrong and the men down there and that Pink Flamingo Hotel.  They talked about Daddy too, and what a good man he’d been. 
“It liked to’ve killed us all, what happened to Jessie,” Granny said. 
“I know Mamaw.  If I had more time, I’d go visit him awhile.”  Momma looked out over the crossroads toward the graveyard.  I looked too but there was nothing to see now, nothing but shadows and scrubby bushes and the boney black limbs of the cottonwood trees.  I remembered what Victor’d said about the nigger man, about the crane with the full ladle. 
 “I want you just to look what the cat’s drug in Mattie!” Granpaw had walked over from his place by the tree.
 “Oh Papaw!”  Momma hugged Granpaw’s rusty old neck and kissed him two or three times. 
“Shoo!  Ruby you’ll get paint all over me!” 
Momma laughed and rubbed at a lip mark she’d left on his jaw. 
“How you been daughter?” 
“All right I reckon,” Momma said.  She looked back toward Victor who was still up by the Ford.  Victor took the cigar out of his mouth.  He held it to one side, pinched between his fingers. 
“How’s that car running Victor?” Granpaw called.   
“Not too bad, Mr. Wood,” Victor answered, “considering the miles we’ve put on her.” 
Granpaw made a bunch of little spit-spit sounds, flicking them off the end of his tongue as he did.  He hawked up another brown gob and let it fall to the ground, then he gave Victor a nod and walked over.  He walked with a limp, like somebody stepping off in a ditch, carrying the open jackknife in one hand and that thing, whatever it was he’d been working on, in the other. 
Granny’s mouth got hard.  “Ruby, I did get that letter of yorn.  I done told you it were all right to leave that child.  I told you in that other letter, ‘member?” 
“You sure it’s not any trouble?” Momma said. 
Granny’s eyes widened.  “Trouble?  Why, tain’t no trouble a-tall.”  She looked over my way.  “I want you just to look how he’s growed!  A might on the skinny side though.” 
“He’ll fill out,” Momma said. 
“Why yes he will.  Come youngun.  Come say hello to your old Granny.” 
“Orbie, be good now,” Momma said. 
I went a little closer, but I didn’t say hello. 
“He’ll be all right,” Granny said. 
“I hope so Mamaw.  He’s been a lot of trouble over this.“ 
Veins, blue rivers, tree roots, flooded down Granny’s gray legs.  More even than on her arms.  And you could see white bulges and knots and little red threads wiggling out.  “I’ll bet you they’s a lot better things going on here than they is in Floridy,” she said.  “I bet you, if you had a mind to, Granpaw would show you how to milk cows and hoe tobacco.  I’ll learn you everything there is to know about chickens.  Why, you’ll be a real farm hand before long!” 
“I don’t wanna be no damned farm hand,” I said. 
“Boy, I’ll wear you out!” Momma said.  “See what I mean, Mamaw?” 
“He’ll be all right,” Granny said. 
The sun was on its way down.  Far to the east of it two stars trailed after a skinny slice of moon.  I could see Old Man Harlan’s Country Store across the road, closed now, but with a porch light burning by the door. 
A ruckus of voices had started up by the Ford, Granpaw and Victor trying to talk at the same time.  They’d propped the Ford’s hood up with a stick and were standing out by the front. 
Victor had again taken up his place, leaning back against the front fender, crushing my ball cap.  “That’s right, that’s what I said!  No good at all.”  He held the cigar shoulder level – lit now – waving it with his upraised arm one side to the other.  “The Unions are ruining this country, Mr. Wood.  Bunch of meddlesome, goddamned troublemakers.  Agitators, if you catch my drift.”  He took a pull on the cigar then blew the smoke over Granpaw’s head. 
Granpaw was stout-looking but a whole head shorter than Victor.  He stood there in his coveralls, doubled up fists hanging at the end of each arm, thick as sledgehammers – one with the open jackknife, the other with that thing he’d been working on.  “Son, you got a problem?” 
“The rank and file,” Victor said.  “They’re the problem!      They’ll believe anything the goddamn Union tells them.”
Granpaw leaned over and spat.  “You don’t know nothin’.” 
Anything,” Victor said. 
“What?” 
Victor took the cigar out of his mouth and smiled.  “I don’t know anything is what you mean to say.  It’s proper grammar.”  
“I know what I aim to say,” Granpaw said, “I don’t need no northern jackass a tellin’ me.”  Granpaw’s thumb squeezed against the jackknife blade. 
Cut him Granpaw!  Knock that cigar out his mouth!
“Strode!”  Granny shouted.  “Come away from there!” 
Momma hurried over.  “Victor, I told you.”
“I was just sharing some of my thoughts with Mr. Wood here,” Victor said.  “He took it the wrong way, that’s all.  He doesn’t understand.” 
“I understand plenty, City Slicker.”  Granpaw closed the knife blade against his coveralls and backed away. 
“Ain’t no need in this Strode!” Granny said.  “Victor’s come all the way down here from Dee-troit.  He’s company.  And you a man of God!” 
“I’ll cut him a new asshole, he keeps on that a way,” Granpaw said.   
Momma was beside herself.  “Apologize Victor.  Apologize to Papaw for talking that way.” 
“For telling the truth?”
“For insulting him!” 
Victor shook his head.  “You apologize.  You’re good at that.” 
Over where the sun had gone down the sky had turned white-blue.  Fireflies winked around the roof of the well, around the branches of the Jesus Tree.  Victor walked around to the front of the car and slammed the hood down harder than was necessary.  “Come on Orbie!  Time to get your stuff!” 
I couldn’t believe it was about to happen, even though I’d been told so many times it was going to.  I started to cry. 
“Get down here!” Victor yelled.
Momma met me at the car.  She took out a hankerchief and wiped at my tears.  She looked good.   She always looked good. 
“I don’t want you to go,” I said. 
“Oh now,” Momma said. “Let’s not make Victor any madder than he already is, okay?”  She helped bring my things from the car.  I carried my tank and my box of army men and crayons.  Momma brought my dump truck, the toy cars, my comic books and drawing pad.  We put them all on the porch where Missy sat playing with her doll.  Momma hugged me one last time, got Missy up in her arms and headed to the car. 
Victor was already behind the wheel, gunning the engine.  “Come on Ruby!  Let’s go!”
“You just hold on a minute!”  Momma put Missy in the car and turned to hug Granny.  “Bye Mamaw.” 
“Goodbye Sweetness.  I hope you find what you’re looking for down there.” 
“Right now I’d settle for a little peace of mind,” Momma said; then she hugged Granpaw.  “I’m real sorry about Victor Papaw.” 
Granpaw nodded.  “You be careful down there in Floridy.” 
“Bye Momma!  Bye Missy!”  I yelled. 
Momma closed her door and Victor backed out.  I hurried down to where Granny and Granpaw were standing.  The Ford threw dust and gravels as it fishtailed up the road. 
Granpaw tapped me on the shoulder.  “This one’s for you son,” he said and handed down the piece he’d been working on.  It was a little cross of blond wood about a foot high with a burnt snake draped lengthwise along its shoulders.  Granpaw moved his finger over the snake’s curvy body.  “Scorched that in there with a hot screw driver, I did.” 
It was comical in a way, but strange too; I mean to make a snake there – right where Jesus was supposed to be.  Like most everything else in my life, it made no sense at all.  Momma’s Ford had disappeared over the hill.  Pale road-dust moved like a ghost into the cornfields under the half-dark sky.  It drifted back toward the skull of Granpaw’s barn, back toward the yard.  I stood there watching it all, listening as Momma’s Ford rumbled away. 

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BOOK TRAILER:


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Kindle Fire Giveaway:

Freddie Owens is giving away a Kindle Fire HD!

  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive the Kindle Fire HD.
  • This giveaway begins January 24 and ends March 28.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on Monday, March 31, 2013.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!


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