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Posted April 7, 2012
Shelli Johnson's wonderful novel, "Small As A Mustard Seed", is one of those stories that will stay with readers for a long-time. The story of a family torn apart by a father's post-traumatic illness after his return from a foreign war is both heartbreaking and tragic. Johnson delves into the deep complexities of the relationships between a father and his daughters, between a mother and her daughters, and between the two sisters, Anne Marie and Jolene, and forces readers to confront an all-telling question: Who would you choose?
Johnson's amazing writing flows like musical notes. Her descriptions are so lifelike and deft, pulling readers into the dark underpinnings of this horrible nightmare that Anne Marie and Jolene live with every day in the descending madness of their father without the aid or protection of their traumatized mother, Adele.
Johnson does a fantastic job of creating sympathy for all of these characters in some way, subtly emphasizing both their strengths and weaknesses as human beings in confronting their lives and the choices they've made or will make.
Long after the story has ended, readers will still dwell upon the overall theme of this novel of "Who would you choose?"
Shelli Johnson is an amazing writer and demonstrates true ability with her craft. "Small As A Mustard Seed" should be a top favorite for every reader seeking to read literary brilliance, because, yes, it's that kind of story and wallops that kind of an impact.
Posted March 19, 2012
In my opinion, this is a ten-star book!
It stunned me with its brilliant prose and gripping story!! A self-published book that is perfectly formatted. A story that in many ways is like my own childhood, though mine wasn't as tragic. An incredible story of family. Of "ties that bind," and of love and redemption. I sobbed at the end of it - and I rarely cry because life's realities have made me tough. But this prize-winning novel - WOW. I know this is fiction, but these people are REAL. There ARE real people like the father in this story who have been blind-sided by life, in the father's case by war. This is what I love about great literature. It allows us to walk vicariously in another's shoes, thus giving us the opportunity to expand our understanding of what some people have to suffer and then hopefully be less judgmental.
The first person narrator is the oldest daughter who is ten years old in November of 1965 as the story begins. Such scenes as this one in the first chapter kept me riveted:
He groped along the top shelf, behind a stack of dusty teacups, and pulled out a gun. He cut his eyes toward my sister and me, gun barrel pointing at the floor, his finger against the trigger.
Jolie's face paled. The knife in her hand clattered to the table.
"Daddy?" I said.
"Goddamned Communists," he answered.
I grabbed Jolie's wrist, yanking her from the kitchen to the foyer, past shoes lined up in two neat rows and coats piled on hooks in the wall. Clothed only in pajamas and socks, we raced out the front door, spring toward the pasture where we hid at the edge of the barn.
Posted February 28, 2012
I loved this story. Although very raw and emotional the story leaves one breathless. The story is tragic from beginning to end with very few bright spots. The pains of this family bring to light the hardness of life, destruction of war and the impact on every member of a family. I can't begin to enlighten people of the thoughts left behind by this story, but it is well worth the read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 6, 2012
I read it in two days it was so good... Warning I needed a box of tissues. The war and it effects on our men and their family told by the children who watched it break apart their families.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 30, 2011
Small as a Mustard Seed was like stepping into someone's life. The characters are gut-wrenchingly honest and so well written, you feel their pain, their struggle and their relief as they grow. As you watch the story unfold through the eyes of the older sister, you wonder what the others in the family are experiencing at first. However, as the story goes on, you realize that one perspective is enough because she is so observant and raw about what she sees and hears in her world.
While the book is set in post-Korea and during the Vietnam era, Shelli Johnson's short emotionally packed book keeps us focused on the people so well that it could be happening at any time. These characters could be your neighbors, friends or family, you feel so close to what is happening in their lives and want to reach out to them. Despite their flaws (which make them so real) Shelli portrays each of them with great care and respect while painting a perfect portrait of living with PTSD. This is a definite must read!!
Posted November 21, 2011
This is a poignant and insightful story of the impact of war-induced post-traumatic stress disorder on an entire family. The father was in the Korean War, and each family member must find their own way of coping in a time when today's treatment was not available. Issues of faith, fear, perseverance, love and individuality are portrayed with realism and compassion. It is shorter than many books but I will read it over and over again because there are so many insights packed within. This is a story that exemplifies love. The mustard seed is also a key element, but you must read it for yourself to explore all the implications. Are there victims? Are there choices? The reader must decide. I thoroughly recommend this book!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 5, 2004
A vivid story about faith, hope and finding peace. Easily read. I could not put this down as each page led me to the next to see what was about to unfold v what I thought was going to happen. A story of two sisters fate as a result of their mother's inability to chose between the love of her husband and what lies best for her children. Written in a way that you easily see the scenes as if it were a picture book. A well thought out story of hope and the desire to bring closure for yourself.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 14, 2011
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