Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Ronald Earl has lived on the tent-revival circuit for years, traveling from town to town with the Church of the Hand, witnessing and healing under the name Little Texas. Now he's nearly sixteen, and isn't so sure that preaching is what he wants to do with the rest of his life. Then one night, a girl in a blue dress is brought to him to heal. He does so and the girl goes on her way. But then he begins seeing her on other nights, but never has the chance to talk to her. Is she just a devoted follower, or something else entirely? The answer will test Ronald Earl's faith nearly to its limit.
Unlike anything that's floating around in the YA genre, Days of Little Texas is a different kind of ghost story. R.A. Nelson combines religious fervor with supernatural elements, making for an interesting and absorbing read. Nelson juggles the two well; in fact, the novel is full of contrasts. Ronald Earl encounters great evil that can only be defeated by love, and the blackness of sin is countered by truth and light.
The tone of the novel and the dialect used is quite authentic, and Nelson does an excellent job at setting scenes and providing many quirky and unique supporting characters. The plot is slow at first, but once you get far enough into it, the story picks right up. There is an unexpected plot twist in the end, but everything wraps up neatly.
Days of Little Texas is a story about faith, and not just religious faith. Ronald Earl has to learn to find faith in himself and in what he is capable of, and in others. His coming-of-age story as he questions his life and purpose amidst all of his doubts is what really makes this a stand-out novel.
Cover Comments: I remember when I first saw this book's cover. My initial thought was, "Oh, R.A. Nelson wrote a new adult title." It's hard to define how a book "looks YA" or "looks adult", but I definitely think this looks to be more of an adult novel. It's by no means a bad one (I like how it's done, with the raised hands and the cool title treatment), but I can't imagine many teens picking this one up for its cover (the colors aren't the most eye-catching). However, I think it has great cross-over potential. My mother picked it up and read it before me (because she liked the cover!), and she asked when she was through, "Since when did you start reviewing adult books?"