Archives for posts with tag: fiction

Debut author, Freddie Owens, swings for the fences and hits a home run with his excellent coming-of-age story set primarily in Kentucky, Then Like the Blind Man. When Orbie’s father dies, his life changes forever. His mother, Ruby, finds herself attracted to the smooth-talking, poetic atheist Victor Denalsky, who had been Orbie’s father’s foreman at a steel mill in Detroit. After Orbie’s father dies, Victor courts Orbie’s mother, and eventually marries her. Not wanting to nor desiring to take care of a nine-year-old boy with an attitude, like Orbie, who can’t stand his stepfather, anyway, Ruby and Victor decide to drop Orbie off at Ruby’s parents’ house in Kentucky, with the promise that they’ll come back to get him once they’ve settled in Florida, where Victor supposedly has a job lined up. Orbie’s mother and Victor take with them Orbie’s younger sister, Missy.

The novel is told in the first person by Orbie, who, though young, is very insightful for his age. As I read, I was often reminded of another famous novel told from the POV of a child, Scout, To Kill a Mockingbird. The themes are different, but Orbie’s and Scout’s perspectives on African Americans in the 1950′s are significant to understanding both books. Orbie has some bad experiences with some of the black people he comes in contact with early on in the novel, so he calls them the “n,” word at various points in the story.

Through the course of Then Like the Blind Man, Orbie eventually realizes that his grandparents are great people who love him. They may not have attained a high level of school education, but they are wise about farm life and human nature.

They don’t like it that their daughter, Ruby, has developed a prejudice for blacks, nor that she’s passed it on to Orbie. That’s one of the many nice touches I liked about Freddie Owen’s debut novel, that in it, it’s not Orbie’s grandparents who live in Kentucky that exhibit a prejudiced point of view, but it’s learned from experiences Orbie and his family have living in Detroit, in the north. Of course, in reality, unfortunately you can find prejudice in every state to this day; but, the author didn’t go the stereotypical route of having his northern characters expressing an enlightened POV, and his southern ones being all racists.
Owens, a published poet, has infused Then Like the Blind Man with a poetic sensibility that makes his story and characters come to life for the reader. Through Owens, and Orbie’s story, we feel the emotions of being dumped off somewhere he doesn’t want to live, at his grandparents’ house; but, we come to see them as positive, nurturing influences on Orbie’s life. Though Orbie despises the alcoholic Victor, and how his mother has made wrong decisions (to his POV, anyway), Victor is not portrayed as being completely bad. He does show an interest in Orbie at times, like when Orbie expresses his fascination with a scar Victor has on his neck that he got in WWII.

Orbie comes to think that Victor acts nicely towards him only further to ingratiate himself with Ruby, Orbie’s mother. Ruby is the type of woman who thinks she can change the man she loves, to rehabilitate him, and she always holds out a spark of hope for Victor. This is an aspect about her that kind of frustrated me as a reader, and made me want to tell her–if she was real and in front of me–to stop deluding herself and wake up and realize what a jerk Victor is most of the time. But, thinking of a man who has faults as being some sort of “project,” or someone who can be “rehabilitated,” is a trait that some women have, so Ruby’s having this trait brought even more realism to the story.

Besides there being various themes and messages in Then Like the Blind Man, Orbie’s boyhood exuberance, how he relates to his grandparents, his changing point of view about much of what he’d taken for granted; and his adventures are what really makes the novel captivating. Freddie Owens fills the pages of his novel with other very memorable characters, like the humpbacked elderly lady, Bird; Moses Mashbone; Mrs. Profit; and Nealy Harlan. If you’re a fan of novels like The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird, Freddie Owens’s Then Like the Blind Man is s Must Read!

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Indie authors deserve our respect, because they are at the vanguard of the direction literature is going in, and has been going in, for several years now: ebooks. This year, over half the books that adults buy and read are ebooks, and the number is growing. There are many very talented Indie authors writing novels, nonfiction, and poetry that rival the best books written by traditionally published bestselling authors.At the risk of leaving many of these authors out, a handful of them (besides myself) are Teodor Flonta, Regina Puckett, Vonda Norwood, Douglas Wickard, Scott Bury, Daniel Kemp, and…the author of the novella I’ll discuss in this review, Messages from Henry, the talented and inimitable Rebecca Scarberry. Besides being a great author, she’s a fantastic friend of authors, too. You can Tweet her at http://twitter.com/Scarberryfields

What is Messages from Henry (Click the title to buy it from Amazon for a mere 99 cents) about? It’s about a normal person, the first person narrator Tammy, who is placed in an extraordinary situation that involves saving her older neighbor, Evelyn Bury, from a ruthless kidnapper.

The novella opens with Tammy and her cat, Cinnamon, enjoying a peaceful day on the porch of Tammy’s house. That changes when Henry shows up. Who is Henry? One of Evelyn’s favorite Rock Pigeons. Though Tammy knows Henry, and sees him fairly often, it’s somewhat odd that he has flown to her out of the blue. He has a note attached to one of his legs. Rock pigeons are fantastic homing pigeons. Tammy removes and reads the note, and reads the ominous words: “Help, kidnapper is going to kill me.”

Tammy notifies the police right away and tells them of Henry’s arrival with the note. Both she and Evelyn are widows, and Tammy has developed a friendship with and feels an obligation towards her neighbor. She hopes that Henry will bring future messages, and that they will help her and the police rescue Evelyn before the kidnapper makes good his threat to kill her.

Tammy gets a series of notes that lead her and Sheriff Kincaid closer and closer to discovering who the kidnapper is, and towards saving Evelyn. Who could want to kidnap and murder such a sweet elderly lady? Who would benefit the most? Maybe her grown-up son, Scott, who has suffered large gambling losses and who could use the ransom money? Who else would have a good reason, if not Scott?

Besides its fast pace and twists and turns, I got a kick out of reading names I recognized that Rebecca uses in her novella, the names of some of the Twitterverse’s most recognizable authors. For instance, there’s the aforementioned Douglas Wickard, who, in Rebecca’s story, is a four-year-old blond-haired boy. Also, there’s Scott Bury, who is Evelyn’s gambling-addicted son in the novella, but a great author of mysteries and thrillers in real life.

Are Tammy’s efforts successful in rescuing Evelyn, through the help of Henry’s messages from her? Is Scott the kidnapper? I’ll never tell–you will have to read this superb novella yourselves to find out! I look forward to reading and reviewing more from Rebecca Scarberry in the coming years. She’s a terrific author and a wonderful lady!

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