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Days of Little Texas

Days of Little Texas

4.2 5
by R. A. Nelson

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A ghostly love story from the author of Teach Me.

Welcome, all ye faithful—and otherwise—to a ghost story, a romance, and a reckoning unlike anything you’ve read before. Acclaimed YA author R. A. Nelson delivers a tantalizing tale set in the environs of the evangelical revival circuit and centered around Ronald Earl, who at ten became


A ghostly love story from the author of Teach Me.

Welcome, all ye faithful—and otherwise—to a ghost story, a romance, and a reckoning unlike anything you’ve read before. Acclaimed YA author R. A. Nelson delivers a tantalizing tale set in the environs of the evangelical revival circuit and centered around Ronald Earl, who at ten became the electrifying “boy wonder” preacher known as Little Texas. Now sixteen, though the faithful still come and roar with praise and devotion, Ronald Earl is beginning to have doubts that he is worthy of and can continue his calling. Doubts that only intensify when his faith and life are tested by a mysterious girl who he was supposed to have healed, but who is now showing up at the fringe of every stop on the circuit. Is she merely devoted, or is she haunting him? Fascinating and original, this is an unusual story whose reverb will be deeply felt and which will inspire lively book discussion.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Ronald Earl, at the center of this multidimensional coming-of-age/ghost story, earned the moniker "Little Texas" at age 10, after performing a spontaneous healing while touring with his great-aunt's tent-revival ministry. But at 16, burgeoning sexual feelings and the apparition of a girl named Lucy, who died when he failed to heal her, cause Ronald to question his integrity as a spiritual leader. When Ronald loses his composure on stage, his great-aunt and his two evangelical companions take him to a former slave plantation to deliver what is hoped to be his greatest sermon and to drive out a malicious force there. However, Ronald's understanding of the spiritual realm becomes even murkier as his relationship with Lucy develops. A chilling yet tender presence, Lucy challenges Ronald's beliefs with provocative insights: people who do "evil things" are "Already in hell. Nothing can be worse... than to live the life they are already living," she explains. At a dramatic final crossroads, Ronald discovers a kind of personal solace, but Nelson (Breathe My Name) offers no easy revelations, instead suggesting that human nature may be as unknowable as the supernatural. Ages 12-up. (July)

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School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Ronald Earl, better known has "Little Texas," started preaching at the age of ten. Now he is 16 and, although he still feels the "power of the holy spirit," he has started to have a few doubts. His days are spent on the road with Church of the Hand family—Miss Wanda Jean, his great-aunt; Sugar Tom, an 87-year-old former evangelist; and his main confidant and friend, Certain Certain, a descendent from slaves. Ronald Earl's growing awareness of the opposite sex—and the physical manifestations it brings to his body—cause him to worry about his calling and his sinfulness. While he can still bring the congregation to tears with the impact of his message and his ability to heal, he wonders if he really wants to continue. When Lucy's parents bring her to him for healing, things start to change. The healing doesn't work and she begins to "haunt" him. Miss Wanda Jean arranges for a revival at a plantation where slaves were mistreated and where the "devil" appeared during a revival many years ago. Both Ronald Earl and the ghost of Lucy worry about what might happen and, in an uneasy alliance of boy and ghost, work to free the "blue people" who are trapped in death. R. A. Nelson's novel (Knopf, 2009), a marvelous blend of religion and romance, the supernatural and coming-of-age, works on many levels with its strong, colorful characters and the intricate plot's twists and turns. Narrator Luke Daniels nails Little Texas's Georgia accent as well as the voices of the other characters, making the book come alive.—Janet Hilbun, Texas Women's University, Denton
Kirkus Reviews
An intriguing premise collapses in Nelson's latest (Breathe My Name, 2006). Ronald Earl is Little Texas, a teen preacher with healing hands and growing doubts, whose ministry has only three other players-an old preacher, Ronald Earl's great-aunt, a revivalist by birth, inclination and trade, and Certain Certain, who exists primarily to make the plot work. Three competing elements-a crisis of faith, a ghostly love story (with Lucy, a girl Little Texas failed to save) and a haunted plantation-never quite jell. Poor pacing unbalances the whole, and many plot points never quite make sense or seem contrived, from how the ministry operates to Certain Certain's convenient flair for exposition. Some issues-Lucy's connection to the plantation-might be attributable to God's mysterious plan, but even Ronald Earl has trouble with that. The story's moral grounding in the evils of slavery is heavy-handed, and too much is telegraphed for the first-person narration to feel genuine, despite the skillful, colorful language. Ultimately, no amount of faith can fill the holes checkering this one. (Paranormal fiction. 12 & up)
From the Publisher
Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, July 6, 2009:
“Nelson offers no easy revelations, instead suggesting that human nature may be as unknowable as the supernatural."

Starred Review, The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, October 2009:
"The book's ethos, subtly evoked through its multidimensional characters, internal and external historical and contemporary conflicts, and intense supernatural climax, is one of a fully realized and respectful humanity, with all of its capacity for cruelty and kindness, spirituality and sinfulness, and ultimately, forgiveness and release."

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Sold by:
Random House
File size:
3 MB
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

R. A. Nelson made his literary debut with the “terrifying [and] poetic” Teach Me, followed by the “incandescent” Breathe My Name (both quotes from Kirkus Reviews). He and his family live in north Alabama. Visit him on the Web at ranelson1.com.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Days of Little Texas 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Finally, a book that even guys might like. Partially, because it has a male for the main character. When I read this, I thought--it's about time. Not only is it a nice change to have a male perspective, but to address issues that are relevant. Sure, this is fantasy because of the ghost story, but hey I have heard more true life experiences about ghosts then I have ever heard about vampires or werewolves. I know some people are really into V&W's, but not me. I would rather read about a guy who is struggling to figure out what is right and wrong and what to believe when society, family and his own experiences are in conflict then whether or not to love a vampire or a werewolf. Three cheers for this one!
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Little Texas is a sixteen-year-old evangelist preacher. Early on, readers learn his back story. Born Ronald Earl, he started life living in a trailer. His father raised pot underneath their home, but when his secret crop was discovered, he was carted off to prison. That left Ronald Earl with his mother, who "entertained" gentlemen callers until one night when she had the misfortune of visiting the local meth lab on the night it exploded and burned to the ground. Ronald Earl then found himself traveling with Miss Wanda Joy, an elderly preacher known as Sugar Tom, and an odd fellow named Certain Certain. Together they made an unusual, but devoted family. Ronald Earl became known as Little Texas when it was discovered that he had healing powers and the ability to preach to and captivate an audience. The group traveled from town to town for years providing revival-type church meetings and taking in enough of a "collection" each time to sustain their operation. But as time passed, Little Texas was becoming less comfortable with his role as child preacher and, at sixteen, he was struggling with his desire to change course. Things changed in a big way after one revival meeting when Little Texas was asked to heal a pretty young girl. Her parents stated that she suddenly became ill while they were traveling, and they put all their hope for her recovery in the powerful hands of Little Texas. He handled the situation just like his other miraculous healings and left behind what he thought was a grateful family. It wasn't long after his contact with the young girl that Little Texas began experiencing some unsettling visions. A young girl calling herself Lucy, dressed in the same blue dress, began appearing before Little Texas. His religious training and beliefs kept him from acknowledging her at first, but the appearances increased in frequency and contact with her seemed so real. Then Miss Wanda Joy gets the idea to hold a revival at a historical plantation known for the mysterious disappearance of another revival preacher. Lucy's visitations take on a different tone. When she appears to Little Texas, she warns him of danger and suggests that with her help, the two of them can battle the evil that haunts the old plantation site. DAYS OF LITTLE TEXAS is a different mix of plot twists and turns. Ronald Earl is a teen struggling with the traditional coming-of-age dilemma, but the religious angle adds an interesting element. Grateful for the support he has been given from his three family friends, he desperately wants to make them proud of him, yet he holds the nagging belief that what he is doing may not be representing the truth. He also clings to his religious upbringing as he battles the conflicting notion of ghosts/spirits/demons or whatever this Lucy represents. Author R. A. Nelson will surprise readers expecting a revival, holy-roller experience as he deftly incorporates an intriguing mystery with the history of the plantation, slavery, and the Underground Railroad. DAYS OF LITTLE TEXAS would be an interesting addition to a high school collection.