Monday, July 22, 2013

When Mockingbirds Sing - by Billy Coffey

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.

You can read the first three chapters of the book HERE.
You can buy the book HERE.
You can find the author's website HERE.

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