“A modern day parable featuring a cast of colorful characters,
this story begs us all to step into the Maybe and have the faith of a child.”
~ Marybeth Whalen, author of The Mailbox, The Guest Book,
The Wishing Tree and founder of SheReads.org
When Mockingbirds Sing is the third novel by Billy Coffey, whose novels combine rural Southern charm with a vision far beyond the ordinary. He lives with his wife and two children in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. He writes about faith and life, choosing to believe “that in everything there is story waiting to be told.”
About this book: 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 that 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?
Judge this book by its cover? As it reflects the story’s sober overtones, yes.
Buy or borrow? Worth adding to your collection if you enjoy literary Southern Lit
Why did I read this book? For BookSneeze for review, and because I like novels that play out deep issues of faith within the broad parameters of fiction.
Would I read another by this author? Yes.
My take: When Mockingbirds Sing is a big story, embracing big thoughts, wrapped in a rather unassuming package. It’s about godly magic and mystery and possibilities in the land of Maybe. It explores disturbing questions of faith–why does God often seem both loving and cruel?–and exposes His sometimes startling choices of self-revelation.
When Mockingbirds Sing contains moments of intense suffering–Leah’s awful stutter, the townspeople’s ugly small-mindedness, marriages in discord–alongside those of subtle beauty–two girls’ steadfast friendship and the unfailing love of a husband for his wife. (The diaper scene is as terrible as it is lovely.)
I’m intrigued by Coffey’s choice in making Allie–a secondary character, albeit an important one–a singularly charming child, far more winsome than Leah, the main character. His prose is languid, surprisingly literary and utterly imaginative. While it’s not one of those stories that made me wish I was there, it did make me ponder. It made me see afresh the beauty of faith, of believing in Whom I cannot see. That’s a gift I carry with me, long after I’ve turned the last page.
Thanks to BookSneeze and Thomas Nelson for providing me a free copy to review. All opinions are mine.
Visit the author online at billeycoffey.com, where you can also read the first three chapters of When Mockingbirds Sing as well as his remarkable “Come to Jesus Moment.”