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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

A Mississippi Whisper by Paul H. Yarbrough

Welcome ladies and gents to the site that aims to please the reader in you, Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers.  Pull up a chair for a spell or grab some curb as we settle in for a slower paced trip along the Mississippi with a novel that will speak to your Southern sensibilities.  There's a little bit of mystery, some youthful tomfoolery, and a whole lot of growing up between these pages, but let's do this properly because we all know it's poor manners not to introduce oneself outright.  Without further ado, I give you today's book of choice...
About the book...
Ten-year-old Charlie McCoy and his friends are curious about the fire up at the abandoned house on the outskirts of town. Since the grown-ups aren’t saying much, and anything really interesting spoken in shushed tones, the boys may need to do a little digging on their own. Meanwhile, they avoid the specter of school looming in their immediate futures with playing ball, fishing, and discussing which business to start: junk collecting or selling rabbit tobacco.

Even more than the mysterious fire, Charlie is intrigued by Jackie Robinson, the first black baseball player in the major leagues. And by the new magazine his older brother keeps talking about, and what their mother would tell that Hugh Hefner if she weren’t such a lady.

While Charlie’s hometown of Jackson is slowly changing around him, with Eisenhower’s highway coming through to transform the face of the land, Charlie and his people hold on tight to their agrarian roots.

And at the end of the day, his older sister Katy Jean is always there with a smile to listen to his ideas and opinions, even if she doesn’t say a lot and mostly speaks in whispers.  
As much as I wanted to fall in love with this one and be swept away by the splendor of it all, it just didn't happen.  I think the problem for me was I went in expecting something other than what was delivered.  In my mind, the focus was going to be on the mystery...what exactly happened at the old plantation?  Was it REALLY a lightning strike or some kind of "trick" (hoodoo)?  The actual focus was more on the lives of the local lads and the troubles they could scare up as they continue marching toward adulthood one summer afternoon at a time.  It was interesting to see Charlie's relationship with Joe grow from one of simple awe over the success of his junk business to one garnering a little more respect as he learns about his past sacrifices and successes.  He begins to really notice the lines drawn between white and black even in his day and age when those barriers were suppose to be crumbling.  It didn't make for a bad experience, as it was rich in detail and carefully plotted like a well manicured garden, but it was unexpected and unfortunately for me, it colored my time between the pages more Mississippi mud than see-to-the-bottom-clear running water.  All was not lost though...

 An unexpected ray of sunshine peeked from behind the clouds now and again in the form of Katy Jean.  Though some may consider her a side character, I think she actually played a bigger role than most.  She really taught the boys, especially Charlie, how to listen, to feel, and understand the heart of the matter rather than just whats exposed at the surface.  She barely uttered any words and yet in her strong silence a memorable and loving character was born.  In fact, there is a particularly heartfelt moment (tissues are recommended) towards book's end that deals specifically with Katy Jean and if you are able to turn the page without a melancholy smile playing across your lips or a tear shed, you're stronger than I.

In conclusion, though the book and I never became best friends, if it were a person, it could still use its last call to ask me to bail it out.  I'd come not only to rescue a vivid soul worth saving, but for the pleasure of its company and the lilt of its story.  If you like Southern Literature with a slow build, big on family and friends, with a little mystery on the side, this one should definitely be on your "to read" list....just go in KNOWING that versus having any false impressions.  You'll be good to go.
About the author...

Paul H. Yarbrough is originally from Jackson, Mississippi. For the past forty years, he has lived in Houston, Texas, where he has worked for two oil companies and been an independent consultant in the oil business, mostly as a landman. He is married with one son. Paul has published a handful of short stories, flash fiction and essays in a variety of forums. His first novel, Mississippi Cotton, was published by Wido Publishing in 2011.

Special thanks to Rick at Caitlin Hamilton Marketing & Publicity LLC for the copy for review.  (THANKS!)  For more information on this title, the author, or those promotions forthcoming, please feel free to click through the links provided above.  This title was released the end of 2014 via WiDo Publishing, so be on the lookout for it on a bookstore shelf or virtual retailer of your choosing.
Until next time...happy reading!


Tracy Terry said...

Whilst I do generally enjoy books big on family for some reason this doesn't really appeal to me. Great review though.

Barbara S said...

I like the title its very intriguing speaks of mystery suspense at its best BUT will I like what lies between those pages. After all that's where it counts will I read or will I nap only.time will tell

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