A. I killed my English classes.
B. I am an avid reader.
C. I have opinions about what I read.
So maybe that doesn't qualify me to be a professional critic, but I was fortunate enough to be asked to review a book that has just been released. Which kind of makes me feel like a secret rock star, so of course I said YES! And the best part is, I have an extra book, so one lucky commenter will get a copy gratis...free...no dinero! (Yes, I know two of those are Spanish, but it's the only other language I know.) Don't you want to know more? Here's the skinny....
The book is When Mockingbirds Sing by Billy Coffey. This is his third book, and really, I recommend them all (Snow Day and Paper Angels are his other titles). His website is on my blog roll if you want to go visit.
Here's a summary of the book from the publisher:
Leah is a child from Away, isolated from her peers because of her stutter. But then she begins painting scenes that are epic in scope, brilliant in detail, and suffused with rich, prophetic imagery. When the event foreshadowed in the first painting dramatically comes true, the town of Mattingly takes notice.
Leah attributes her ability to foretell the future to an invisible friend she calls the Rainbow Man. Some of the townsfolk are enchanted with her. Others fear her. But there is one thing they all agree on—there is no such thing as the Rainbow Man.
Her father, the town psychologist, is falling apart over his inability to heal his daughter or fix his marriage. And the town minister is unraveled by the notion a mere child with no formal training may be hearing from God more clearly than he does.
While the town bickers over what to do with this strange child, the content of Leah’s paintings grows darker. Still, Leah insists that the Rainbow Man’s heart is pure. But then a dramatic and tragic turn of events leaves the town reeling and places everyone’s lives in danger. Now the people of Mattingly face a single choice:
Will they cling to what they know . . . or embrace the things Leah believes in that cannot be seen?
Here's my take:
I love Billy's writing because as a small town girl, I relate. I know I see corn fields outside my window instead of the Blue Ridge Mountains, but he describes American small town life with the richness and reality of one who's lived it. I love that, because he knows just how to put to pen what I've experienced for years...that odd combination of wonderful close-knit ties of community, strong values, and then a darker side that's rarely discussed in the name of good manners. I feel like I've met his characters at the store a time or two. I went to church with them. I graduated with them. While I can relate to each character, I seem to find myself fitting in particular characters' shoes pretty well. The opening of the story puts us in the birthday party for a nine year old girl. Guess who's daughter turned nine the day after I began reading the book? I was instantly hooked.
One of my favorite writers growing up was Frank Peretti. I loved that he looked beyond the senses of what we physically know on this earth and brought another spiritual dimension to Christian fiction. I will always appreciate the layers of spiritual depth, imagination and intelligence in his work. Now I'm a bit uncomfortable making comparisons because Mr. Coffey most certainly has his own unique voice as a writer, BUT. This book did for me what I so love about Peretti's books. It opens the door to a God so much bigger and fantastic than what small boxes our human brains have tended to put Him in. Wrapped up in a beautifully told, compelling, and suspenseful story, there is a message that God's ways of working can be far beyond of what we can dream for ourselves. That God still masterfully draws people to Himself. And that heroes can be found in the most unlikely of people. Makes me think of how the Bible is full of similar underdogs that God takes and uses for His glory. So I think you will be rooting for the underdogs just like I did in When Mockingbirds Sing.
(Plus, there's birds that really creeped me out. Just sayin'. Great reading for a stormy summer night under the covers with a flashlight!)
How to win your copy!
So, if you would like your own copy of the book, please leave your name and email address in the comments below. One time only, please. If you are my facebook friend, I'll let you have one additional entry in the contest by sharing a link to this post, but you must let me know you shared! Leave your named and "shared on facebook" in the comments section here or tag me on facebook, please and thank you. Entries must be in by 8pm Eastern on Friday June 7th, and then my nine year old daughter will pick a random winner from a hat, old school style. I will contact the winner by email and snail mail the winner the book. You must be in the U.S. to win, although if any of my out of country relatives or friends want to enter and have an address I can send it to in the states...well...I think that counts! So here goes the first ever giveaway for my blog...Woo hoo! I'm a rock star!
If for some reason your comment does NOT appear, please enter the contest by emailing me your name by Friday at 8p.m. Eastern. It seems Blogger is not a fan of comments by phone. My email address is: