professornana (professornana) wrote,

Little Texas: that is not an oxymoron, right?

R. A. Nelson bowled me over with TEACH ME, a book that told the story of a high school girl who has an affair with her English teacher. The subject matter is one of those that is a hot button issue with me. I scream at news stories about teachers who "fall in love" with students. It makes my skin crawl. But I digress: the point is that TEACH ME drew me into this world despite my misgivings. So I looked forward to Nelson's new book. DAYS OF LITTLE TEXAS (Knopf, July 2009) is not a disappointment.

Ronald Earl, better known as Little Texas, is a 16 year old Bible thumping preacher who draws small crowds at tent meetings across the South. He is also the narrator of this novel that deals with religion and faith, with slavery, and with the nature of evil. One night after a meeting, a girl is brought to Little Texas by her parents. She is obviously near death and Little Texas is about spent from his evening of preaching and healing. However, he lays his hands on this girl and attempts to heal her. Her parents carry her away, apparently healed. But Little Texas continues to see this girl, Lucy. Sometimes her face is pressed against the window of a hotel room. Often, he catches glimpses of her at other meetings.

One night, Little Texas feels he simply cannot go on with his ministry. His aunt (and his guardian) tells him that perhaps Little Texas is ready for a change. That is how Little Texas and his entourage of three end up at the ruined plantation, a place rumored to be controlled by a huge evil force. How will Little Texas and Lucy face this challenge?

The book is a wonder. It certainly held my attention yesterday on the long flight from Houston to So Cal in bumpy weather. Thanks to Nelson for taking on some difficult subjects and shining a new light on them.
Tags: religion, slavery, ya books
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