Powerful themes course through – The Reader Salute
Great reviews have been coming in for the soon-to-be-released third book in the Wyattsville Series, Passing through Perfect. Here’s one from Donovan’s Bookshelf:
Poverty may be color blind, but prejudice is not…and what heals one man can tear the heart from another. Passing Through Perfect is not the kind of novel that excels in pat answers, simple characters, and calm progressive events – and this is evident from the first paragraph, which opens with a punch and just keeps on emotionally slugging: “When the heart of a man gets pulled loose he starts dying. I started dying a year ago, and I’m still working on it. I ain’t going all at once; I’m going piece by piece.”
Benjamin Church opens the story in 1958 with a heart-felt review of why he’s dying. But it’s not so much a physical death as a spiritual one: he’s lost Delia, his love, and the story of this loss makes for a powerful saga in Passing Through Perfect, which goes back to 1946 Alabama where war is ending and Benjamin is returning home with little news of his family’s situation.
Benjamin’s marriage to Delia was not without its controversy, right from the start: it’s a union that causes some to chafe and others to accept them, and it survives birth, death, and the storms that threaten to shake its foundations, until one particular loss changes everything.
When Benjamin comes to realize what his son Isaac is telling him about the tragedy, which is firmly rooted in prejudice and man’s inhumanity to man, he embarks on a dangerous journey of confrontation and revenge that exposes the raw underbelly of Southern prejudice running in all circles, from the common man to local law enforcement: “The sheriff recognized Benjamin. He’d done work for Missus Haledon, and he’d done a good job. He painted their back fence and repaired a broken window in the storage shed. He was blacker than most but known for being polite, unlike the smart-mouthed coloreds who lived on the far side of Bakerstown.”
Be forewarned: this is Book Three of The Wyattsville series. This reviewer has not read the prior books, either – so also be advised that prior familiarity with the series is not necessary (though, it likely will be desired, after reading this continuation of the saga). This is Southern fiction writing at its best: spiritually infused, warm, and family-oriented – an atmosphere which permeates every chapter with descriptions firmly routed in family tradition and the South: “As he sat at the kitchen table and drank a glass of sweet tea with his daddy, her ghost slid in alongside of them. It was a sadness neither of them wanted to speak of.”
Sadness, broken connections, painful memories, and the birth of tolerance in the face of bitterness: all these are powerful themes that course through Passing Through Perfect and lend it an emotionally-charged feel.
Any interested in Southern atmosphere and family ties injected with a dose of spiritual reflection will find this a powerful, moving read.