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When Mockingbirds Sing

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What marks the boundary between a miracle from God and the imagination of a child?

Leah is a child from away, isolated from her peers because of her stutter. But then she begins painting scenes that are epic in scope, brilliant in detail, and suffused with rich, prophetic imagery. When the event foreshadowed in the first painting dramatically comes true, the town of Mattingly takes notice.

Leah attributes her ability to foretell the future to an invisible friend she calls the Rainbow Man. Some of the townsfolk are enchanted with her. Others fear her. But there is one thing they all agree on—there is no such thing as the Rainbow Man.

Her father, the town psychologist, is falling apart over his inability to heal his daughter or fix his marriage. And the town minister is unraveled by the notion a mere child with no formal training may be hearing from God more clearly than he does. 

While the town bickers over what to do with this strange child, the content of Leah’s paintings grows darker. Still, Leah insists that the Rainbow Man’s heart is pure. But then a dramatic and tragic turn of events leaves the town reeling and places everyone’s lives in danger. Now the people of Mattingly face a single choice:

Will they cling to what they know . . . or embrace the things Leah believes in that cannot be seen? 

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Stunning and artfully written story of faith. July 24, 2013

When Mockingbirds Sing is the epitome of the book which at its ending leaves you wishing there was one more page to turn and then one more and then . . . well, you get the picture, don't you? I did not want this book to end.

Billy Coffey is a masterful storyteller. His characters come alive, and some jump off the page into your heart. Others you don't care for at all. Scenes evolve before your eyes as if an artist was wielding his paint brushes across the canvas while you're reading. The plot maintains a highly readable pace, holding your interest which is captured immediately upon reading the first page.

Coffey has created a small town with its foibles and quirks and yes, its characters. Into Mattingly, Virginia, he has dropped some city folk from Away. Being from Away tends to make life difficult for those who come from there. Add to that the fact that young Leah Norcross stutters, and life burgeons from difficult to impossible and miserable.

Fortunately, during a birthday celebration, Leah is befriended by Allie Granderson, whom I believe senses Leah needs a friend. Allie is bold and steps right up to fill the job.

Enter Leah's friend, The Rainbow Man. However, only Leah sees him and hears him. But Leah believes in him with all her might. Leah's Rainbow Man concerns her psychologist father, Tom Norcross, who has demons he struggles with from a previous life it seems. And his marriage to Ellen isn't going so smoothly either. A bit more tension added to the story line.

As soon as the Mattingly folks learn of Leah's Rainbow Man and her belief in him plus his ability to help Leah foretell the future, they begin to take sides -- some against Leah because they are afraid, others standing with her because they are enchanted with her abilities. And the town's minister begins to fall apart at the idea a child could hear more clearly than he the voice of God.

If we take a deep look at the people of Mattingly, I believe we see ourselves, whether we believe in a higher power or not. Judgment cast on others because of where they come from happens daily. Choosing to shun another because of an impairment in speech or other challenge isn't all that uncommon, is it? And what about fearing what another might say about their own relationship with a higher power?

Has Billy Coffey imagined Mattingly, or has he described for us any small or large town in America? Has he opened the door for us to take a close look at how we treat our neighbors? Is the author attempting to open our eyes and hearts to something bigger than ourselves?

For the answers to these questions, you'll have to read When Mockingbirds Sing. I promise you will not be disappointed, whether you read it as Southern fiction or Christian fiction. Coffey's transcendent writing style will hold your attention and keep you entertained.

* * *

Favorite Passage:

"He c-comes to us all, Ruh-Reverend. He's always w-with us. You and me aren't duh-different. No one's duh-different. It's just that I nuh-know I'm small and everyone else thinks they're buh-big. That's why no one else c-can see Him. They pruh-pray and sing and say they luh-love Him, but d-deep down they think they know beh-better than He does. They d-do their own things because they thuh-think they're b-big enough. But they're not. No one's big enough."

I received a complimentary copy from BookSneeze.com in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Review by Sherrey

Rating




An unforgettable novel with a lasting message! June 11, 2013

The best part of a great book is when you can take a few moments after the final page has been turned, you close your eyes, sigh, and remember just how great a story that was you just read. One that will live long in your soul like a priceless memory. In fact for as far back as I can recall, almost anything that author Billy Coffey has written has lingered in my mind and touched my heart in profound ways. In his latest novel, When Mockingbirds Sing is definitely not like anything I had ever read from him before. This one gripped me from the first chapter and wouldn't let me go. I quite literally couldn't do anything else until I uncovered the magic that was taking place in the small town of Mattingly, Virginia. Think of it like your personal Mayberry of sorts. The kind of town where everyone knows one another, where often times they can rally together for the good of the community. It's also a place where when things can't be explained that people can assume to worst in others. But all that is about to change when one little girl, Leah Norcross came to town and brought the magic with her.

Leah is the only child of Tom and Ellen Norcross. Your average family from the looks on the outside. Tom is a full-time psychologist in town and has cut back his hours to spend more time with his family. Something he promised them before they moved here. But something in Tom's past won't let him go and he'll have to decide where his true priorities lie when no matter what he tries, he can't seem to heal his own daughter, Leah of her ability to stutter. What's even worse is the divide it has been causing in his own marriage to Ellen. They are more like room mates than husband and wife lately and he is struggling to find a way to create bridge to bring his family back together. Will Leah's magic be enough to heal her family as well?

Leah's only goal in life to to have friends, but she has learned long ago that when you are different like she is, people will often go to great lengths to be mean and stay away from you. So she is more than thrilled when the Rainbow Man appears and offers to work with Leah to help what is ailing this small town. The only problem with the Rainbow Man is that no one can see him but Leah. Leah and the Rainbow Man are about to change the lives of the people living in Mattingly like they had never imagined and all those prayers to God are about to point to what Leah can paint in her remarkable pictures handcrafted just for each one of them. What is really going on with Leah and her paintings? Just what is the Rainbow Man? Is he sent from God or somewhere else?

For that answer to the mystery of the magic in Mattingly, you'll have to pick up a copy of When Mockingbirds Sing by Billy Coffey. After picking up a copy of this novel, you'll want to carve out a good portion of time to sit back and watch the real storytelling magic of Billy Coffey's writing transport you as a silent observer into the lives of the people in Mattingly. The interesting note I found when I began my own journey is that the voice in the story reminded me of the narrator from the movie Charlotte's Web (1973), Rex Allen, whose gentle and warm voice lulls you into a magical world that only Billy Coffey can create through his words. This is one not to be missed and will change how you see things in the world today. There is magic alive all around us if we are only willing to look for it.

It's been a true pleasure to review When Mockingbirds Sing by Billy Coffey compliments of Thomas Nelson Publishers and the down to earth author Billy Coffey, himself. I received no monetary compensation for a favorable review on this novel and easily give this one a 5 out of 5 stars. I've had the distinguished pleasure of adding so many of Billy Coffey's short stories to my personal library through his novels but also through his blog, What I Learned Today. Make sure you grab a comfy spot on the porch swing, make a tall glass of some Southern Sweet Tea and prepare yourself for a truly unforgettable journey into the world of Billy Coffey today! To wrap up this novel in one word would simply be "Awesome Sauce!"

Review by Kathleen (Kat)

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When Mockingbirds Sing, Billy Coffey

Details

What marks the boundary between a miracle from God and the imagination of a child?

Leah is a child from away, isolated from her peers because of her stutter. But then she begins painting scenes that are epic in scope, brilliant in detail, and suffused with rich, prophetic imagery. When the event foreshadowed in the first painting dramatically comes true, the town of Mattingly takes notice.

Leah attributes her ability to foretell the future to an invisible friend she calls the Rainbow Man. Some of the townsfolk are enchanted with her. Others fear her. But there is one thing they all agree on—there is no such thing as the Rainbow Man.

Her father, the town psychologist, is falling apart over his inability to heal his daughter or fix his marriage. And the town minister is unraveled by the notion a mere child with no formal training may be hearing from God more clearly than he does. 

While the town bickers over what to do with this strange child, the content of Leah’s paintings grows darker. Still, Leah insists that the Rainbow Man’s heart is pure. But then a dramatic and tragic turn of events leaves the town reeling and places everyone’s lives in danger. Now the people of Mattingly face a single choice:

Will they cling to what they know . . . or embrace the things Leah believes in that cannot be seen? 

More Information

Length 336 Pages
Publication Date June 4, 2013
Company
  • Thomas Nelson
ISBN-10 1401688217
ISBN-13 9781401688219
Height 8.2"
Width 5.4"