Edwards, Tom, “Blue Jesus: A Novel”, Academy Chicago Publishers, 2009.
A Southern Novel
Bobby Dean is an eleven year old boy who has moved to the mountains of north Georgia to live with his grandmother after his own mother died. He soon meets Early Finch, a boy with blue skin and a descendant of the Blue People of Troublesome Creek, Kentucky. If you love coming-of-age stories, you will love this book. There is tenderness and pain and lots of humor as it looks at what it means to grow up and be bullied.
Tom Edwards, the author, had to live up to the Southern literary tradition which brought us such writers as Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner, Truman Capote and others. Buddy is different and something of a sissy and picked on because of that. He is a dreamer and his dreams dominate him. He suffered abuse every day and then he met Early. Early had his own problems and was picked on for being “retarded”. The two outcasts become friends when they are still young and a bond keeps them together especially when Buddy feels Early channeling his dead mother. Early says he has a gift from God which Buddy witnesses when they discover a dead infant at the local dump and Early is able to revive it. Soon people are talking about Early and before he realizes it, he has a following.
There is also a confrontation of racism here when Early at a church revival demands that all of the church choirs perform together.
The book deals with some of the most difficult issues that we face— religion, sexuality, physical appearance, child abuse, friendship and the worth of life. Buddy narrates the story and we see how he sees the world through his eleven year old eyes.
The writing is crisp and clean, the characters are wonderfully drawn and the plot really has something to say. Here is a novel written in the Southern tradition and will keep you turning pages as fast as you can.
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