QUICK HIT - A suspenseful work that exposes the norms of small town Christianity. Can you believe in the Maybe?
After an unfortunate incident that almost cost Tom Norcross his therapist license, he moves his family away from the city out to the country life of Mattingly. Soon after their arrival, his daughter Leah begins to have conversations with a supposed imaginary friend she calls The Rainbow Man. After receiving an easel for her birthday from Barney Moore, Leah paints him a picture that she says was sung to her by the Rainbow Man. Her parents have never seen her paint like this before and wonder how it came to be. Barney and his wife Mabel, who never recovered from a stroke, accept the painting and he sees some strange numbers that he uses to fall into a large fortune, which causes quite a stir around town.
The local preacher, Reggie Groggins, is stricken that his flock could be led so wayward by a little girl's painting. As Leah keeps painting, the town looks to see if this painting is significant as well. Reverend Groggins rouses the head Deacon and the Mayor to find a way to put an end to the painting. After the expected result of the second painting fails, the town turns against the Norcross family. Leah's paintings begin to turn darker and the town tries to force them out, regardless of Leah's warning of an impending disaster to the town and its residents. In the end, is the Rainbow Man imaginary or is he something more spiritual?
I began this book with mixed expectations of what it would hold for me. It took a little bit to set up, but then it flew by. Coffey has brought a story that looks into everyday aspects of Christianity that we face every day, whether you are the unbelieving father, the struggling preacher, or the grief stricken husband questioning Gods' motives. All of the characters came to life in a great way that made me feel like I was in the crowd as events were happening.
The story is a push and pull struggle of several main characters that are all interwoven together. The suspense of the story drew me in relatively quickly and I didn't want to put it down once I was pulled in. The end of the book was left open for a possible future story that I will be looking forward to reading. This was the first book I have read by Billy Coffey, but it will not be the last.
Leah Norcross is the nine year old daughter of the town psychologist in the small town of Mattingly. Seemingly inhibited by a stutter, she lives in a world all her own. Drawing pictures that are breathtaking in detail, and talking to an invisible man she calls the "Rainbow Man", she is not exactly the most popular kid in town. While some of the townspeople seem amused by Tom and Ellen's daughter, others are leery of someone so unlike themselves.
Barney and Mabel Moore are part of the accepting group. Explaining that the small town does not easily accept strangers from Away, Barney tries to smooth things over for everyone. When he wins the lottery from numbers that Leah painted, the lines are drawn. The minister refuses to believe a child can hear from God even more clearly than he can. Leah father, Tom, is equally as confused, but sticks with his daughter, even though he cannot understand what is happening to her. Can he save his daughter from the clutches of her own mind? Or is there really more to this Rainbow Man than he is willing to admit?
This is definitely an ambitious novel. But more than that, it hit the mark. I was expecting a quaint little town with a quaint, backwoods feel to the story. I got so much more than a nice story with a feel-good ending. Coffey takes you on an adventure that leaves you pondering the tale even when you're not reading it. He sometimes raises more questions than he answers, and then in a breathtaking, effortless sweep brings you to understanding without even trying. It is very different than what I've ever read, but it was worth every word. If you don't read a lot, make the time for this novel. You won't regret the remarkable journey.
This book was provided by Thomas Nelson Publishers for free in exchange for an honest review.
Billy Coffey is a maestro who has conducted a symphony in when mockingbirds sing. With the melody of the central theme, each character's story weaves in and out, some in harmony and others in a minor discord. Novel Rocket and I give it our highest recommendation. It's a 5-star read that has gone not only on my Top 10 for 2013 list but my Top 10 of All Time as well.
"When Mockingbirds Sing" by Billy Coffey is a fantasy novel about a stuttering, shy girl, Leah and her strange parents who move to a small town that seems keep its population the same always with few new comers. Leah's parents have a huge birthday party for her and the Rainbow man comes to befriend Leah and give her knowledge.
This whole book is kinda weird. It has great reviews and I am not sure why. The whole thing seems like the author's a weak attempt to be deep. There is little introduction so the reader spends the first part of the novel wondering what's going on. With the exception of Allie, none of the characters are particuarly likable. I didn't like this one, however, many people do. Give it a shot. I received this book for free from www.booksneeze.com.
Leah and her parents have moved from the city to the small town of Mattingly to reunite as a family. Tom and Ellen even invite the whole town to Leah's birthday party, in an attempt to connect to the people of this outsider-averse community. Things start out well, with Leah befriending a town girl named Allie, who looks past Leah's stutter and sticks with her, even as Leah's life begins to get stranger and stranger. First, there's the Rainbow Man, who sings only to Leah and tells her things that nobody else should know. Then there are the paintings - the first of which brings great blessings upon the town's forgotten. But is this Rainbow Man real? Is he good? And are these paintings and prophecies of Leah's meant to help the town, or break it apart?
When Mockingbird Sings reminded me a lot of a book I read years ago, Keeping Faith, by Jodi Picoult. A small girl who seemingly is tuned in to a powerful force, with the public divided over whether it's good, evil, or even real. I won't do a comparison of the books here, but Picoult's book was in my head for most of the reading of this one.
I wasn't sure how to feel about this book; while I admired Leah's commitment to her journey, the story itself was so dark. Leah's life was not easy; the Rainbow Man did not make things sunshine and roses. Leah was outcast, doubted, and mocked. At one point, almost the entire town teams up on her. Yet, she stands her ground; she believes in the Rainbow Man, and she believes she needs to do what he says and deliver his message to the people of Mattingly, no matter the cost to herself or her family, or her very best friend. Additionally, there are multiple mentions of other "magic" that has happened in this town, hints that Leah is not the first person to experience strange things here, yet the stories of the past are never explained, even though one character promises to tell Leah's Father Tom the whole thing. While Mr. Coffey has other books available that reference "a small Virginia town," there is no indication of these books being a cohesive series, and no reference to the order they're meant to be read in, if they're even connected. This left me feeling like I'd missed a big part of the story, and it made it much harder for me to connect to the townsfolk.
Even with my frustration about the plot holes, I was drawn into Leah's world, and anxious to see how things turned out. I wanted to know whether the Rainbow Man was on the side of good or evil, and I wanted to know what the prophecies meant for the town.
I give this book 3 stars.
I received a copy of this book from Thomas Nelson, as part of their Booksneeze program, in exchange for my honest review.