- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
From the PublisherA clumsy, vision-seeing, forever-sweeping ex-convict is the unlikely catalyst in Walker's affecting story of a daughter's emotional healing after the untimely death of her father in a plane accident. Amelia's father Jed kept the field behind his house, which served as the runway for his plane, neatly mowed and debris-free. Before going away on a trip, he would remind his daugther to "keep the runway clear," which Amelia understood meant more than just picking up downed twigs; it meant "taking care of things" until he returned. But now that Jed's never coming home, the runway is literally and metaphorically covered in weeds and trash. Amelia barely passed sixth grade, and she and her mother have both retreated into a world of silent sorrow. The sorrow lies particularly heavy on Amelia, as she beleives that she may have accidentally caused her father's death, a subject that so fills her with guilt and shame that she can neither talk about it nor heal. The arrival of Brother Mustard Seed, an annoying, bumbling, over-emotional yet well-meaning "sinner" who claims that he saw Jed in a vision, stirs up the family dynamic and allows Walker to explore the jumbled, quasi-mystical connections between belief and bravery, laughter and letting go. Brother Mustard Seed is an original creation, curious and contradictory, and like Amelia, readers should find him intially irritating though eventually almost endearing. Even if occasionally overburdened by its own symbolism, the book's twangy first person narrative keeps the reader engaged to the touching, tear-inducing end.
---Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2001
Walker, a first novelist, offers a multi-layered story told in the memorable Kentucky voice of 12-year-old Amelia Forrest. Amelia's father died more than a year ago in his small plane on a mission of mercy. Since then, nothing has been the same. Her grades and social life have tanked, her mother has gained 50 pounds, and the tiny airstrip behind their house is covered with weeds. But for Amelia, the worst is keeping the secret that she is responsible for her father's death. Then, one day, an old man wearing a cap that says "Pray Hard" appears on her doorstep. He's Brother Mustard Seed, a member of Mr. Forrest's prison fellowship, and he has come because he's seen a vision of Amelia's father. The novel's denouement falls slightly flat, but Walker juggles numerous plot elements with the skill of a more experienced writer, while effectively showcasing larger themes such as belief and death. A fine debut from a writer to watch.
---Booklist, March 1, 2001
When Amelia Forrest was 11 years old, her crop duster/missionary father died in an airplane accident. Now, a year later, the girl has determined that she and her mama need to find a way to put their lives back together. She's set on a summer of improvement for both of them and has sent her mother off to the beauty parlor while she reads the encyclopedia to improve her grades. Amelia's well-laid plans are interrupted when a strange man comes to the door claiming he's been sent to them by her father, who has appeared to him in a vision. Amelia takes an instant dislike to ex-convict Brother Mustard Seed, whom Jed Forrest had helped rehabilitate, but her mother seems reluctant to let him go. As the summer wears on, the man becomes the catalyst that allows Amelia and her mama to regain a sense of purpose in life and, more importantly, to regain their faith. Set against the background of a rural Southern community, this novel explores the issues of adolescent guilt (Amelia is convinced that she is responsible for her father's death) and the inertia that often overwhelms families in tough situations. Walker's quirky characters are imbued with the spiritual resolve they need to overcome their sorrow and to get on with life. Amelia does not forget her rather, but learns to remember and celebrate their relationship in a new and healthy way.