It's Book Review Wednesday again, and today I'm quite pleased to bring you a story that was surprisingly moving for me…
David is a kind drifter who settles in the small Texas town of Westville. His sense, empathy, and awareness are well received by the residents as they welcome and befriend him. He helps a small local girl try to realize her dream and excites and energizes the whole town. The local reporter unravels the mystery of his travels and discovers why he is on his journey. Then, lives change as fate takes a critical turn...
My Review: 4 Stars
I have to point out that there were a few flaws with this book. For example, a truck driver says he always drives hundreds of miles out of his way to visit the small city. Unless he is an owner-operator, he isn't allowed by his company to deviate that much from his route.
There are a few problems with "head hopping"--the POV of the characters shift incorrectly. There were a few verb confusions and fundamental grammar mistakes that made it seem a bit amateurish at times.
The dialogue also didn't have a natural feel. There were no Texas-isms, no accents, and no difference in the way they talked. Consider that this is the deep South (a few miles from the US/Mex border), there should have been MANY more Mexican/Latino characters than just the one.
The actions were often at odds with the words. For example, one of the characters says something nice to another, then smirks. Perhaps it's just the verb confusion, but "smirk" is not usually associated with "nice".
One thing that really irked me is how the writer copied the stories VERBATIM at the end. One of the characters interviews people, and they tell their stories three times--each time with EXACTLY the same words. The way a story is told to a friend is not the same as it's told to a reporter or on live TV, so it felt like the author got lazy and just copy-pasted that bit.
And yet, despite all of these issues, I can't help but give it a 4-star rating. I opened the book expecting it to be a lot like many of the other "helpful drifter" (such as the book Joshua
by Joseph Girzone), and it definitely had a lot of that feel. Yet the main character, David, was down to earth, real, and a guy you can't help but like. Despite the fact that the author alludes WAY too much to his "secret past", it's still easy to keep reading the story.
Then there was the ending. I expected to be disappointed by the ending, but I couldn't help but get a lump in my throat as I read it--a reaction I did NOT expect. Definitely a touching, moving ending, and for that, I must give it a high rating.
Here's a Taste:
David waved his hand over the grill as it heated up for the morning breakfast. As he moved things around he looked up Packer Road at the few remaining tents and tables that were still set up.
He stepped out from behind the grill, walked around the front counter toward the front door, and then stepped outside and watched a couple of the business owners start taking down the remaining setup from the bazaar.
The sound of an approaching car got David’s attention, and he turned around to see Rebecca getting out of her mother’s car, which was now pulled off to the side near Charlotte’s Place.
“Going in for some breakfast, Mrs. Wilson? Miss Charlotte is inside,” David said calling out to the two of them as he began to make his way over.
Mrs. Wilson waved and nodded. “I’ll see you inside,” she said to Rebecca as she went in.
Rebecca walked over to David and he turned slightly so that the morning sun was not directly in either of their eyes.
“I guess you’re leaving today,” David said as he noted that Rebecca’s suitcase was visible from the backseat of the car.
“Yes,” she replied excitedly. “I talked to my family and everyone seems to agree that beyond just the money, which in and of itself is worth it, it will also be a great learning experience."
“It will be. It may offer you opportunities for the future you never even considered. Perhaps it will take you farther down the journalist path. Maybe Zachary has some work upcoming for a corporate communications person and he wants to see how you can adapt to that. Perhaps another company might need or want you for that. I don’t know what he has planned for you, and I did try to ask, but he wouldn’t tell me. I’m sure it will be exciting and rewarding.”
“I don’t know what to say to you. Your being here and stoking the fire, that’s what allowed all of this to happen. So many of us are looking at things differently already. A few, like myself, are finding ourselves with new opportunities we never thought possible before,” Rebecca said as she choked up a little on the words.
“Life happens while you’re busy making other plans. You have to grab onto it when you can and ride it for all it’s worth.”
“I’ve never been on a plane before and Mr. Taylor is flying me out of El Paso on his private jet,” she said as she turned west and looked down Route 385 toward El Paso. “I tried all night to come up with some way to thank you for all of this and I still can’t think of anything.”
David breathed in deeply looking for something meaningful and encouraging to say. “Some things are right place, right time. If you had gone away to college, you might have been elsewhere when all of this happened and you wouldn’t have been here for the opportunity when it came. Life is full of variables and many of them we have little control over. It’s really not necessary to thank me, but if you really feel the need to then take in what’s happened here and never forget it. Don’t let other people forget it. That’s what happens in the fullness of time. Memories fade and fires dwindle on their own. We have to work to prevent that from happening.”
Rebecca worked very hard to hold back the tears. “I’ll remember. I’ll never forget.”
David smiled at her. “Go have something to eat with your mother. You won’t be seeing her for a few weeks.”
Rebecca turned to walk away, then reached back and hugged him tightly. “I hope there are more people like you and that I find them, making the world a better place one person at a time.”
David had a response for that, but he didn’t like the sound of it, so he kept it to himself and simply smiled.
As Rebecca let go to go inside Caroline bounded off the stoop of the apartment and ran over to David. She was already for school and clutching her tablet. Maria came out and stopped and chatted with Rebecca before she went in. David noticed she was not dressed for work.
“Mr. David, everything was so wonderful. I can’t wait to tell the kids from the other towns that couldn’t come how great the bazaar was. I am so excited.”
David kneeled down so that he was basically looking up at Caroline. He looked at Maria, who was still talking with Rebecca. “Can you do something for me?”
“I can,” Caroline said proudly.
“I want you to be you. I don’t want you to ever worry about what others think or what their expectations are. You are the only one that you need to live up to. Your expectations, no one else’s. Can you remember that?”
“I think so,” Caroline said. “I’ll keep repeating it to myself like I do with what Hogarth says: ‘You are what you choose to be. You choose.’ ”
“That’s a good plan. The meaning will change for you as you get older. Always remember the message,” David said as he looked at Maria again who looked as if she was about to come over. “Always remember your mother, too. She has sacrificed so much to give you this life you have and it is invaluable.”
About the Author
Jason has been working in the information technology field in one form or the other since 1996. He is currently employed full time at Bloomberg LP as a Systems Engineer in the R&D group. Jason lives in Wallingford Connecticut, with his wife Renata. He is the father to four children, three boys and 1 girl - 10 years (Andrew), 8 years (Angela), 6 years (Adam) and 5 years old (Alex).
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