by Jerry W. Brown
Category: Fiction / General
0 pages; ISBN: 0970557523
Rating: 9/10 (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Paul Lappen
George "Jickie" Jennings is the son of a moonshiner from the Louisiana Bayou. He realizes, early on, that education was his ticket out, so scholarships to Tulane University, then UCLA-Berkeley, lead to him becoming a civilian scientist with the Defense Department. He is called back home when Ersel, his father, is severely injured in an accident.
The relationship between the two can best be described as difficult. During the Great Depression, the family survived as best they could. Some money could be made by, for instance, catching crawfish or helping a neighbor in their garden, and selling to one of the local businesses. Ersel was drunk much too often.
At Tulane, Jickie falls for a woman named Rachel Goodman, who comes from a very religious family. Her brother, David, the man of the family (their father had died), tells Jickie to end the relationship, now, because he isn’t Jewish. David even takes Rachel home to Texas, to prevent them from seeing each other. Jickie marries a local girl, but she later dies of cancer. In the early 1950s, the Civil Rights Movement comes to town, in the form of three young people helping the local blacks to register and vote. An attampt by the local Ku Klux Klan to encourage the three to immediately leave turns tragic.
Back to the present, actually the late 1970s, Jickie’s bitterness and jadedness comes off as acting like a major jerk. When Ersel wakes up, there is no grand, tearful reunion (the two hadn’t spoken to each other in more than 15 years). In fact, they spend most of their time complaining at each other. On the good side, Jickie runs into Rachel, now Ersel’s neurosurgeon, and they get back together. As time goes on, the two men spend a lot of time with each other, get a lot of things out in the open, and Jickie begins to start to let go of his pain and bitterness.
The reading may seem rather slow, but, by the end, the reader will realize that they have just finished a great novel. Not only is this an interesting story of a person’s life, but one can almost hear and smell the bayou while reading it. This is a fine piece of writing.