The Sign Painter: A Novel

The Sign Painter: A Novel

by Davis Bunn


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The Sign Painter: A Novel by Davis Bunn

A deeply emotive story about a young mother struggling to get back on her feet after a devastating loss leaves both her and her daughter alone and living on the street—from bestselling and award-winning author Davis Bunn.

Amy Dowell had always considered herself a very good mother. But when she loses her husband to illness and her home to debt, she finds herself and her young daughter, Kimberly, living on the streets as she struggles to find a job that will get them back on their feet again.

When Amy meets Lucy Watts, the pastor in charge of the church program that fed Amy and Kimberly their latest meal, Lucy sets them up in temporary housing and gives her a lead on a job painting signs for a local auto dealership—but Amy is hesitant to let go and trust. Is this finally a legitimate break? Can Amy subject herself to the possibility of disappointment and hurt by hoping again?

Inspired by the true story, The Sign Painter is a tale of desperation, taking chances, and ultimately redemption. This heartwarming novel blends mystery, romance, and characters you’ll root for, will leave you wondering–Is home really where the heart is?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781416556732
Publisher: Howard Books
Publication date: 08/05/2014
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 501,218
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Davis Bunn is the author of numerous national bestsellers in genres spanning historical sagas, contemporary thrillers, and inspirational gift books. He has received widespread critical acclaim, including three Christy Awards for excellence in fiction, and his books have sold more than six million copies in sixteen languages. He and his wife, Isabella, are affiliated with Oxford University, where Davis serves as writer in residence at Regent’s Park College. He lectures internationally on the craft of writing.

Read an Excerpt

The Sign Painter


    Amy Dowell considered herself a very good mother. She did not allow her circumstances to dictate how much love she had to give. She did not permit the presence of worries to color the way she greeted her daughter. “Good morning, darling.”

    “I don’t want to get up.”

    “I know, sweetheart.”

    “It got loud last night.”

    “But we were safe here inside our little home, weren’t we?”

    “In our love cave.”

    “That’s right. Here, let me slip this over your head.”

    “Can’t I sleep a little while more, Mommy?”

    “No, Kimmie, we have to get a move on.”

    “But why? I’m so sleepy.”

    “Because I have a new job this morning. I told you last night, remember? Kimmie, let go of your pillow, honey. Give me your foot. Now the other one. Okay, here we go, ready to face the world?”

    A delivery truck chose that very moment to start up. Amy’s daughter had hated the sound of truck engines ever since the two of them had been forced onto the road. It was why they seldom stayed in truck stops. The rumbling motors gave her terrible nightmares.

    Kimmie scrunched herself into the crook of her mother’s neck and squealed. Amy raised her voice to be heard over the departing truck. “It’s all right, honey. It’s leaving.”

    “The big bad truck wants to eat me!”

    “No, it doesn’t, darling. There, see, it’s gone now.” Amy dropped the plastic holdall with their washing items into her backpack. She had a purse, but it remained stowed in the cabinet over the sink. Carrying a purse was something from a different life. Amy waited until the truck had merged with the sparse dawn traffic to open the door. By mid-May, central Florida was already hot and sticky at six-thirty in the morning. Kimmie was big enough to walk under her own steam, but Amy carried her anyway. It was hard managing the flimsy stairs while hefting her daughter and the bulky pack. But she had grown used to much harder tasks than this one.

    Their home was a camper cab bolted to a Ford truck. The pickup had a hundred and seventy-two thousand hard miles, and the massive eight-cylinder motor sucked gas. The tires were bald and the front windshield was cracked. The previous evening, Amy had parked in a service station’s rear lot, behind the car wash. After the nine P.M. shift change, the lone attendant of such stations rarely left the bulletproof enclosure. A year back, Amy never would have dreamed that such knowledge might prove vital. Or that she would become proficient at picking locks, which she managed with Kimmie wrapped around her neck. All service stations had cameras surveying the restroom doors. But at six-thirty in the morning, half an hour before the shift ended, the attendant rarely paid attention to the security screens. Amy opened the restroom lock in ten seconds flat.

    Once they were cleaned up, Amy returned to the camper and gave careful attention to Kimmie’s hair. The five-year-old whined a bit over the inevitable tangles but mostly stayed quiet. By now Kimberly was familiar with their new-city routine. So much depended upon them both putting on their best face. Kimberly had hair like summer wheat, dry and blond and so fine that it poofed out with static electricity when brushed hard. Sometimes that was good for a laugh, but not this morning. Amy was in a hurry, and Kimmie was still sleepy.

    Amy dressed her daughter in a clean T-shirt and jeans, then let Kimmie curl up with her blanket in the passenger seat. Amy flattened the sheet of instructions she had copied down the previous evening from MapQuest. Another thing she had mastered over the past eighteen months was finding her way through strange cities.

    As they turned onto Highway 192, Brentonville’s main thoroughfare, a pair of police cars came flashing past. Amy could not completely hide her flinch. Her fear of cops was genuine and well founded. Her most dread nightmare was of some new city’s social services trying to steal Kimmie away. Not to mention the fact that her vehicle was a rolling list of violations. No one knew cops like the homeless. It was a fact of life on the road.

    The church was easy enough to locate. The main building rose north of the thoroughfare that ran arrow-straight to Disney. It was good that Kimmie was drowsing, because they passed a giant sign advertising the theme parks farther west. That was all Amy needed, having her daughter freak out over how close they were to the Magic Kingdom.

    The First Methodist Church complex dominated two full city blocks. Amy had researched it on her laptop the previous day, after the job offer had been confirmed. Most big cities had at least one such church, where the problems of today’s world were not hidden beyond the barrier of faith. There were websites dedicated to people like Amy, live boards that posted helpful information about every city in the nation. Some of the sites were specifically designed to help single mothers: where to go, where to stay, what to avoid. How to survive.

    Newcomers without roots were not always welcome in churches. Which was why Amy parked her truck at the back of the church lot, then brushed Kimmie’s hair a second time and fitted in the two pink plastic hair clips and straightened her T-shirt before getting in close to her daughter and saying, “What are we going to do when we get inside?”

    “Smile and be nice,” Kimmie replied.

    “That’s my good girl.”

    “Will they have eggs, Mommy?”

    She took the little girl’s hand. “Why don’t we go and see?”

    Many city churches with schools and day-care centers served breakfast for students and families. These days, too many of their charges arrived hungry. This free meal was generally restricted to people signed into the system. Others had to pay. Sometimes, though, Amy was able to slip in. It just depended on the church and the day. As they joined the line, she saw a father with three young boys set money on the counter. Amy gave a silent sigh and reached into her jeans. She hated having to use her gas money for food, but she needed a safe place to leave Kimmie.

    The desk inside the cafeteria doors was staffed by a woman with an expression that Amy had come to know all too well. The woman’s name tag read LUCY. Her no-nonsense gaze held the hard-earned wisdom of having long experience with Amy’s world.

    “You’re new,” the woman said.

    “We just arrived last night.” Amy tried to make her voice as cheery as possible.

    Lucy motioned for Amy to swing around to the side of the desk. The woman continued to accept breakfast vouchers as she asked, “Where from?”

    Amy knew the administrator’s easy tone masked a well-honed ability to sense trouble before it started. The only way to handle a person like this was not to try and handle her. People like Lucy had heard all the hard-luck pleas and were not moved. Amy gave it to her honest and straight. “Tampa, and before that, Tallahassee. Before that, Atlanta.”

    Kimmie reached for her mother’s hand and said softly, “I didn’t like ’Lanta.”

    “Neither of us did,” Amy agreed.

    The woman smiled a greeting to a young family and asked, “So why go?”

    “Work. I was a graphic designer, you know . . .”

    “Before,” the woman supplied, looking at her with a glint of what might have been sympathy. “And now?”

    “Mommy paints pretty windows,” Kimmie said, a trace of genuine pride in her voice.

    “I’m a sign painter,” Amy explained.

    The woman appeared won over by Kimmie. “You have work?”

    “Supposedly. At Denton Chevrolet. I won’t know for sure until I show up.”

    “And you need a place for your little one to stay.” She smiled as she handed Amy two breakfast vouchers. “Go eat. I’ll stop by later. We’ll chat.”

    Amy fumbled her thanks and hated how her fingers trembled as she stuffed the crumpled bills back in her jeans. The woman noticed. Amy suspected that Lucy missed very little. She gave Amy another smile, one survivor to another, and said to Kimmie, “I believe I saw them making waffles.”

    Kimmie’s delight was genuine. “My favorite!”

    Amy thanked the woman again and joined the breakfast line. She gave her eyes a quick swipe when she thought no one was watching. She had grown used to this, how an unexpected kindness threatened to unravel her control.

    Amy filled Kimmie’s plate with sausage and waffles, then took eggs and sausage and hash browns and biscuits for herself. Kimberly hated how the syrup ran over her sausage, but the little girl had learned not to say anything. They walked down the central aisle. Amy veered away from the first table with free seats because of the man she spotted just as she was about to sit down. He was in his late forties, and very handsome in a chiseled fashion, and clearly a cop. Which was why the only other people seated at the table with him were church workers. The man might as well have had a stone wall built around him. No one else even looked his way. Amy was far from the only person in the room harboring bad memories from run-ins with the police.

    Amy spotted two places at a table holding several Bibles. She smiled a greeting and let Kimmie snuggle up next to her on the bench. The room was filled with pinched features and faces bearing the remnants of a leathery tan. Many of the gazes were hooded and fiercely aware, all products of life on the street. Amy knew she was gaining some of the same telltales and was helpless to do anything about it. Another of her nightmares was waking up one morning and discovering the same traits drawn on Kimberly’s young face.

    There was no conversation at their table. This was another thing she once found remarkable and now accepted as normal, how silent most people were. People on the verge knew others had no interest in hearing their worries. They also knew someone here might be very close to exploding and could be set off by the smallest word. Quiet was safe.

    Lucy took a seat at the table across the aisle and watched as Amy helped Kimmie cut her waffle and sausage. When Amy finished her meal, she unzipped her pack and pulled out a Bible. The woman observed that, too. Amy had no idea why Lucy was so interested in them. But eighteen months on the road had taught her to judge people swiftly and well. She sensed no danger from Lucy. Amy opened her Bible to the passage that was listed on the board by the front podium. Let the woman watch.

    The woman stepped to the front podium and introduced herself as Lucy Watts, head of the church’s outreach ministries. She led them in prayer, then preached a brief sermon. Amy followed the words with determined intensity. These daily lessons were a vital part of her holding on to what was most precious in her life, including the ability to set aside all her worries and burdens, and show her young daughter the love she needed. Amy had learned to clamp down on the questions for which there were no answers. Such as how God could allow these things to happen, or when they would find a way out of their impossible situation, or where she could offer her daughter a future. Stability. A home. All the things that had become impossible dreams. All the things that Amy was determined to regain.

    When Lucy left the podium, she walked down the aisle, greeting several latecomers and hugging one woman who rose from Amy’s table. Lucy seated herself across the table from Amy. She reached over and swung Amy’s Bible around. The two pages were underlined, with thoughts and prayers written into the margins. “A student of the Word. I like that.”

    “It’s all that holds my life together.”

    “I know what you mean.” Lucy’s gaze drifted over the rapidly emptying room. “I wish I could wake up a few of the nodders to that same truth.”

    “I can’t condemn them,” Amy replied. “I’d probably have given in to the same bitterness, except for one thing.”

    Lucy watched Amy stroke her daughter’s hair. “Where do you live?”

    “My husband’s camper. It was actually his dad’s. He used it for hunting trips.” Amy looked down at her little one. “I was after him for years to get rid of that old thing.”

    “You lost him?”

    “Twenty-two months ago.” The terse response was all that was required. Amy settled her hand over her daughter’s ear and pressed so that the other ear was covered by her body. “Cancer.”

    “You lost your home?”

    “No. First I lost my job. Then my health benefits. Then I declared bankruptcy. The home went last.”

    Kimmie squirmed and pushed Amy’s hand away. “I can’t breathe, Mommy.”

    “Sorry, darling.”

    Lucy rose from her place. “Mind showing me where you live?”

    The Ford pickup had never looked more battered. The camper’s rust spots were glaring blemishes in the morning sun. The door shuddered as Amy pulled it open. The old vehicle seemed as embarrassed as she was over having someone see how they lived. Amy had forgotten how loudly the right rear suspension creaked when someone climbed the stairs. Lucy entered and slipped into one of the two chairs by the narrow fold-down table. She gave the cabin a very slow look.

    Amy settled on the bed and pulled Kimmie into her lap. She had no idea why Lucy was here. But she knew an interview when she saw one. For what, Amy had no idea. Even so, she felt a faint thrill of electricity run up her spine. Maybe, just maybe, this woman would give Kimmie a free place in their day-care center. It would make all the difference in the world, knowing her little girl was taken care of by people like Lucy while Amy was off at work. Making money. Trying to climb out of this hole.

    Lucy pointed at the drawings taped over the window above the sink. “Your daughter has real talent.”

    “Did you hear that, honey? The nice lady likes your art.”

    “Mommy only puts up the ones that make her happy.”

    “What’s your name, sweetheart?”


    “How old are you?”

    “Almost five and a half.”

    Amy added, “In two months.”

    “That’s ‘almost,’ isn’t it, Mommy?”

    “Yes, darling. You’re my big good girl.”

    Lucy asked, “You select the drawings that are happy?”

    “It’s the best reinforcement I can give her,” Amy replied. She heard the shiver in her own voice. Please, oh, please let this woman give my baby a day-care place and for free!

    Lucy nodded and did not speak. She continued to look around the cramped confines. Amy’s gaze tracked along with hers. She saw the battered equipment and the neat rows of possessions, the shelf with Kimmie’s toys and dolls, the shelf where their clothes were folded, the scruffy cabinet with the cans of emergency food and their two plates and two cups and two knives and forks. The narrow sink beneath the opposite window was clean; the drying rack held their soup bowls and glasses and spoons from dinner the previous night.

    Finally, Lucy rose from her chair and started for the door. “Come with me.”

    Together they walked through the parking lot shared by the outreach center and a small medical clinic and the crisis pregnancy center. Lucy took them along a covered walk past the main church buildings, crossed a street, and stood before what formerly was a down-at-the-heels strip motel. Amy’s heart started beating so fast, she thought it might escape from her chest.

    “The church acquired this property two years ago. Volunteers converted it into nineteen studio apartments.”

    Kimmie protested, “Mommy, you’re squeezing my hand!”

    Amy swept her daughter up into her arms. She did not trust herself to speak.

    Lucy fished a key from her pocket and unlocked a door. “The family in here until the day before yesterday has been moved into a home built by Habitat for Humanity. Normally, I only give our apartments to church members, or families recommended by a local relief group. But just before you showed up this morning, I felt God whisper to me.”

    The studio apartment was freshly painted and had a kitchenette and a real dining table. There was a door with a lock and pale curtains and a foldout sofa and a sleeping pallet rolled up in the corner. There was a bathroom. With hot water. And a shower.

    It was a palace.

    Kimmie whispered, “Mommy, is this for us?”

    Amy could only nod.

    “Let me down! Let me down!”

    Amy allowed her squirming daughter to slip from her arms. She had no choice. Her strength was gone. She could scarcely hold herself erect. She felt tears course down her face.

    Lucy had clearly seen it all before. “Why don’t I leave you folks to settle in. You can come by later and we’ll go through the forms.”

    Amy managed, “I need to go see about this new job.”

    “So call me when you get back.”

    “I have no idea when that will be.” Amy heard her voice break over the words and did not care. “All these jobs are rush-rush.”

    “Girl, believe me, I don’t serve with this ministry so I can work from nine to five. Your daughter is welcome in our day care. We run a special after-hours service for working moms.” The outreach director set the key on the table by the sofa. “Welcome home.”

    When the door shut, Amy did not so much fall to her knees as feel the carpet rise up to meet her. Kimmie was suddenly in her arms. The little one was crying, too. Her daughter’s joy was as great as her own.

    This was another lesson the road had taught them both. How much it could hurt to hope again.

  • Reading Group Guide

    This reading group guide for The Sign Painter includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Davis Bunn. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


    Amy Dowell had always considered herself a very good mother. But when she loses her husband to illness and her home to debt, she finds herself and her young daughter, Kimberly, living on the streets. She struggles to find a job that will get them back on their feet again.

    When Amy meets Lucy Watts, the administrator of the church program that provides Amy and Kimberly with a meal, Lucy surprises Amy by setting them up in temporary housing. The same day, another church member offers Amy a job painting signs at his Chevrolet dealership. Still, Amy is afraid to let go and trust. Could this be the break she’s been praying for? Can she afford to expose herself and Kimberly to the possibility of disappointment by hoping again?

    Topics & Questions for Discussion

    1. Discuss the significance of the title, The Sign Painter. What are some of the signs that appear to Amy, Lucy, Bob, and Paul?

    2. Both Amy and Lucy possess the skill of making quick assessments of other people and their intentions. Were Amy’s first impressions of others always correct? Was Lucy right about Amy?

    3. Amy has built up a fear and dislike of the police over her months on the road, but slowly comes to trust and befriend Paul Travers and Granville Burnes. How do you see Amy starting to trust again throughout the novel?

    4. What do you make of Amy taking the money from the dealership? Do you think she did the right thing?

    5. Why does Amy accept the job at Denton Chevrolet? Is this a good decision for her and Kimmie?

    6. Consider the theme of friendship and support networks throughout the novel. How are the relationships between Amy and Lucy and Granville and Paul necessary and beneficial to each of the characters?

    7. Which character do you identify with the most? Why?

    8. Paul finally opens up and admits to feeling unfulfilled and bereft of purpose in his life. How does the theme of overcoming hard times through faith and sharing struggles with others appear throughout the novel?

    9. How does Amy work to create a routine and a sense of home and normalcy for Kimmie? Does she succeed in teaching these things to her daughter? Consider this moment in the novel: When the service was over, Amy remained seated beside her little girl. It was a habit she had started soon after they hit the road. Amy wanted her daughter to hold on to all the good things that remained within reach. She could not tell such lessons to a child. She had to show them: Here was safety. Here was a place where she could feel connected to all the goodness in the world. This was a true sanctuary from life’s uneven hand. And Kimmie needed to feel it for herself. (p. 83)

    10. How does Amy use prayer as a tool in her life? How does it bring her closer to Lucy and Bob?

    11. Compare the two parent-child relationships in The Sign Painter: Amy and Kimmie and Bob Denton and Bob Jr. How does each relationship illustrate the challenges of being a parent?

    12. What would you do if your neighborhood were facing drugrelated violence like the church community in The Sign Painter?

    13. The very last words of the novel are “Welcome home.” How were the concepts of home, belonging, and community interwoven throughout the novel?

    Enhance Your Book Club

    1. Volunteer with your book group for an organization that helps homeless women and children. Visit to find your local, state, or national housing or homeless advocacy coalition, or make a financial contribution to support their work.

    2. Check out Davis Bunn’s other novels available from Howard Books: Book of Dreams, Hidden in Dreams, The Black Madonna, and Gold of Kings. Davis is known for writing excellent female and male protagonists. After reading one of his other books, compare and contrast your favorite characters from each book.

    3. Find out more about the author by visiting www.DavisBunn. com. Discover more about Davis’s upcoming projects, and discuss with other readers in the web forums. If you submit a review of The Sign Painter, it might be shared on Davis’s blog!

    A Conversation with Davis Bunn

    What was the inspiration behind The Sign Painter?

    We have all seen homeless people on our streets—from small towns to large cities across America. Often we hurry past them, but later we reflect on the twists of fate that may have brought them so low—poverty, illness, mental problems, addictions, domestic violence. As Christians, in the spirit of Matthew 25:31–46, we may be moved to help “the least of these.” For me, a turning point was when I saw a local news item in Florida. The recession had hit hard, unemployment was rife, and the housing boom had turned to bust. The report showed how entire families were being displaced, losing their homes and belongings to repossession orders. In desperation, many were reduced to living in vans or in run-down motels on the outskirts of Orlando’s sprawl. I was moved by the plight of the children in particular—deprived of stability and security. Even their favorite pets and toys had to be abandoned. As I learned more about these problems and how Christian ministries tried to respond to them, I decided to write a story. But I did not want to focus on the hardships; I wanted to focus on the rebuilding. To my mind, too much attention is given to the falling down, and not enough to the getting back up again. So The Sign Painter aims toward hope and healing—a new future for homeless families, but also a reminder about the help our communities may be able to offer.

    The Sign Painter covers some weighty problems of homelessness, unemployment, drug trafficking, and drug-related violence. Why did you choose to include these difficult issues?

    Before addressing this question, let me first say that my primary aim here was to create an entertaining, encouraging novel. To say that the story is about these difficult problems really does not, at least as far as I am concerned, capture the true heart of this novel. The Sign Painter is a message of hope.

    That said, the problem of homelessness does not exist by itself—it is part of a larger situation that our cities and our communities face. What I wanted to show was how certain churches have become involved in reclaiming their communities. There are some real heroes in this struggle, and they operate on the same principle as Jesus: One lost soul at a time

    The special operations and police maneuvers executed by Paul and Granville were so fun to read and so expertly detailed. Did you do any special research for those scenes?

    This was a very special component of preparing to write The Sign Painter. Two friends on the local police force in Florida helped enormously in creating realistic characters. The character of Paul is actually a retired federal officer, and his portrait was based on friends who work in Washington.

    As I was sketching these preliminary scenes, I had a dear friend whose church went through a very difficult period of upheaval. Over lunch with several pastor friends, they mentioned how sometimes what really was needed was a private investigator who was first and foremost a believer and who would work with the church toward restoration and healing. That was how the idea for Paul began—a roving former federal agent, dedicated to helping churches through threatening times.

    How does your approach to writing a stand-alone novel differ from that for the series novels that you’ve written?

    Well, in some cases, I feel like one novel contains pretty much everything I want to say on a subject. In others, I am kind of glad to walk away from the characters involved. But since completing The Sign Painter, I find myself working through scenarios where Paul and his new Florida team help other churches. So who knows? There may actually be another episode, in the fullness of time.

    Which of the characters in The Sign Painter was the most fun to write? Which character was the most difficult?

    Bob Denton became a real surprise for me. Initially I thought he would be a sort of “walk-on” part, someone who just serves as Amy’s boss, and when the drug issue arises he then becomes a red herring—a person under suspicion who turns out to be a good guy in the end. But when I actually started writing, this man just took on a life of his own. He completely refused to do what I expected of him. Characters can be very bullheaded at times. Bob was determined to fall in love with Amy. I can’t describe it any better than that.

    It was heartbreaking to read about the broken relationship between Bob Denton and Bob Jr. What did you want readers to take away from their relationship?

    This was very personal, and quite rough to write. There are people I’m very close to who have fallen into the trap of addiction. Enduring their trials and struggles has been tough. But the experiences have also opened my eyes to how a person needs help to break free. And some people, alas, do not either seek or wish to do so. For the story to work, I needed a Bob Jr. to represent those people who are content to dwell in the dark.

    The themes of community and belonging are very prevalent in this book. How have these concepts been important in your own life?

    I left home at age twenty and traveled to Europe for graduate studies. I basically never returned. After graduating I taught university for a year, then worked for an Arab consortium for three years, then became a consultant living in Germany. It was here, in Dusseldorf, that I came to faith.

    For my entire adult life, community has never been easy, or readily available. This is one of the hardest aspects of living overseas. I have made homes in seven different countries, and each time it has been necessary to rebuild my community—new friends, new church, new sense of belonging. In some cases this was very difficult. When I began work on this story, I found myself hearing repeatedly from the former homeless what it meant to rebuild their personal communities. How hard it was to trust, to hope, and what a vital role the church played in helping them heal. It was at this level that I most identified with them—how crucial it was to find a church that truly lived the concept of open doors and open arms.

    What are you working on next?

    I stay very busy crafting new stories in a variety of genres. This period of my life has become especially intense, as I have also become involved in teaching creative writing at the university level, and I am engaged in several multimedia projects, including film production and radio broadcasting.

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    The Sign Painter: A Novel 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Davis Bunn does it again and again. This book is a great mystery with a heart and hope. I had no idea what this book was about but with Bunn being the author I knew it would be a good read, and it was. So worth reading!
    Fitzysmom More than 1 year ago
    The Sign Painter is a story that has become all too familiar in America today. Amy Dowell has lost almost everything. Her beloved husband became seriously ill and due to that situation they lost their home and their income. Eventually Amy lost her husband to the cruel disease. She now finds herself living in a rundown pickup and camper with her young daughter Kimberly. For months they have been going from place to place as Amy finds work to keep them going.  By a complete act of Providence Amy comes upon a job and a housing situation that promises a second chance. In the shadow of Disney's Magical Kingdom sits the First Methodist Church. This church has a ministry to care for the least of these. Through their loving guidance Amy and Kimmie have an opportunity to start again making a new life.  If the story ended there it would be a lovely redemptive tale, but this story is written by Davis Bunn so you know there is another layer. Just down the street from the church complex is a small nondescript house that the drug cartel have moved into. The drug lords are also looking to take care of the least of these. In a very interesting twist of fate Amy finds herself right in the middle of a very dangerous drug ring.  For an added degree of interest this is based on a true story. I always enjoy Davis' writing and he has once again put together a compelling read that makes you consider the world past your manicured lawn.  I received a copy of this book to facilitate my review.
    Deal_Sharing_Aunt More than 1 year ago
    This was a story about loss and love. To lose your husband, house and to be homeless is not a good combination. Especially when you have a daughter. This was based on a true story and I wish that I could find it. I would love to read more about these people and how strong they are. This book proves that a house is not a home unless there is love there. A home can be wherever you want it to be. I am giving this book a 5/5. I was given a copy to review from Howard Books, however all opinions are my own. 
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    VicG More than 1 year ago
    Davis Bunn in his new book, "The Sign Painter” published by Howard Books takes us into the life of Amy Dowell. From the back cover:  A deeply emotive story about a young mother struggling to get back on her feet after a devastating loss leaves both her and her daughter alone and living on the street—from bestselling and award-winning author Davis Bunn. Amy Dowell had always considered herself a very good mother. But when she loses her husband to illness and her home to debt, she finds herself and her young daughter, Kimberly, living on the streets as she struggles to find a job that will get them back on their feet again. When Amy meets Lucy Watts, the pastor in charge of the church program that fed Amy and Kimberly their latest meal, Lucy sets them up in temporary housing and gives her a lead on a job painting signs for a local auto dealership—but Amy is hesitant to let go and trust. Is this finally a legitimate break? Can Amy subject herself to the possibility of disappointment and hurt by hoping again? Inspired by the true story, The Sign Painter is a tale of desperation, taking chances, and ultimately redemption. This heartwarming novel blends mystery, romance, and characters you’ll root for, will leave you wondering–Is home really where the heart is? It used to be that homeless were the bums, the drunks, the addicts that lived in a certain section of the city. Now being homeless can happen to practically anyone. Case in point Amy. She gets hammered with one bad situation after another until she and her daughter are living in a small camper attached to her late husband’s truck, which, in itself, is a sign of the mercy of God at least the two of them are literally not on the street. Then the grace of God manifests itself in a variety of ways giving Amy a new chance. No doubt about it Davis Bunn knows how to write a great story.  In “The Sign Painter” I think Mr. Bunn has created his most memorable characters yet. This is a story about healing, about family and that God is with us through every circumstance that comes our way and can get us out of whatever comes against us.  Amy and Kimberly are terrific characters and we root for them as we live through their various ups and downs.  Davis Bunn does  a truly remarkable job in this book while exciting us with this story that everyone will enjoy.  I liked “The Sign Painter”. If you missed the interview for “Lion of Babylon”, a different series, and would like to listen to it and/or interviews with other authors and professionals please go to Kingdom Highlights where they are available On Demand. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Howard Books.   I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
    Heart2Heart More than 1 year ago
    Looking around almost everywhere, you see homeless people. While some may chose this sort of life as a scam and a way to earn money, there are others that find their way into this situation through a series of unforeseen circumstances. I am so glad that Davis Bunn decided to utilize this as the backdrop of his latest novel, The Sign Painter. It does more than highlight the homeless, it shows us that hope is possible and most simply want the opportunity to get out of it as fast as possible and often times, children and families are impacted the most. Their stories are worth getting to know. In The Sign Painter, Amy Dowell is struggling to find a way just to keep her head above water. After the death of her husband two years ago, she has watched her world as she knew it slowly slide into an oblivion. First the loss of income her husband provided, then the loss of health benefits, then she had to declare bankruptcy and finally had to watch her home go into foreclosure forcing herself to where she is today, living with her young daughter Kimmie in her husband's old truck with a camper shell. Now with the prospect of a job on the horizon, she hopes she can convince the local Methodist church to consider her position and let her daughter into their day care program, long enough to make some money. But what Amy gets in return is far more than expected and puts her back on the grace of God. Just in time, the church offers her and Kimmie a small apartment that she can stay in for 9 months, as long as she remains drug free and finds employment. In return, they will take care of Kimmie during the hours she has to work. Now if she can begin to find trust in the people she finds herself surrounded by again, she might find more than she is hoping for. Her job as a sign painter for Denton Chevrolet will allow her a small cushion to live on until she can find another free lance assignment, but there is more going on at the car dealership than the owner is even aware of, or is he? You'll have to pick this one up to find out how it all ends for Amy and her daughter Kimmie. I received The Sign Painter by Davis Bunn compliments of Howard Books, a division of Simon and Schuster Publishers for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions expressed here are strictly my own. I've been a fan of Davis Bunn since my first encounter with his book, The Black Madonna and continue to be amazed out how diversified his novels are. This one offers readers insight into the lives of a single mother who finds herself in the direst of circumstances while the neighborhood she is working and living in, is being plagued by drug dealers and criminals moving into the houses nearby. It shows how difficult it can be living in the midst of crime while trying to find a way out. Once again Davis Bunn engages his readers through capturing their heart without them realizing it and taking them along for the ride of their life. An unforgettable novel that will have you rethinking the homeless people you see on the street the very next time. I would rate this novel a 4.5 out of 5 stars and there is a great discussion guide and author Q and A at the conclusion of this novel.
    Read-by-Glowlight More than 1 year ago
    What’s better than a fast-paced, absorbing novel with realistic characters and an important theme? It’s when that same novel has been inspired by a true story. And that is exactly what three-time Christy winner and international bestselling author Davis Bunn has done in The Sign Painter. Amy is a single mother whose husband died of cancer two years ago. The financial devastation she faced left her and her five-year old daughter living out of a camper-truck with bald tires, rust, and an engine that is sure to give out any day. Amy wants nothing more than to have a second chance at life—to hold down a secure job and make a home for the two of them. Lucy runs a daycare and semi-permanent shelter for the homeless. The facilities are owned by the First Methodist Church, and the church board is split down the middle on this arrangement. Half of the Christians think it would be more prudent not to get involved with this riffraff of society. The other half knows not all homeless are addicts or criminals; but rather, they are good folks who need a hand up. Bob Denton is the wealthy owner of Denton Chevrolet. He’s a good man who has no clue that some of his staff are cavorting with international criminals. Paul Travers make problems go away. He is something of a mystery. He carries a gun and a Bible, and he knows how to use them both. Drew is one of Bob Dentons’ flashy car salesmen who likes handling wads of cash and flirting with naturally beautiful women like Amy. Across the street from the church is a house where ten-year olds on bicycles pass out little bags of white powder to drivers of expensive cars that stop by. Inside the house danger lurks. The DEA and the local police are at odds about how to handle the situation, and the longer they fight over it, the higher trouble mounts. It threatens the outreach of the church as the young people and the former homeless hang in the balance. This story is about hope, change, second chances, taking a chance, facing fear, and doing the right thing. It is exciting, entertaining, and will keep you up past your bedtime. Author Davis Bunn was the keynote speaker at a writers conference I attended earlier this year. I learned so much about creative writing from his presentations that when the publisher offered me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, I jumped at the chance. This is the first Davis Bunn novel I’ve read, but it won’t be my last. He has a new fan.
    amybooksy More than 1 year ago
    The Sign Painter has a beautiful message of hope and redemption. It shows great awareness to the homeless and the poor community. The story was drama filled, playing with the reader's emotions. It also has some action, mystery and suspense. Though at times it was slow, it was a good and quick read. I think it is worth picking and reading. 4 stars. I received this from Howard Books in exchange for an honest review which was given.
    thedeena63 More than 1 year ago
    The description of "The Sign Painter" calls it 'a deeply emotive story'. No offense, but talk about an understatement! I haven't cried this much reading since I read my first Karen Kingsbury novel! Powerful, potent, and deep: three words I'd use to describe one of the shortest novels Davis Bunn has crafted. You will quickly fall in love with Amy and her daughter Kimmie. Every page you'll turn, you will be cheering her on as she works hard to give her precious little girl a better life. I've never been homeless, but it has loomed over our family more than once, and that was enough to set me back emotionally. I can't begin to imagine what a homeless family endures, and I've learned not to be so quick to judge, taught by many homeless men and women I've encountered. This will set any misconceptions you might have to rest if you'll allow it to. I adored Lucy; she became a hero very fast. And then Paul, and Granville and Bob....all heroes in the story. There's more to Bob than you'll first think. But that's all I'm sharing, because I want this gem to be a surprise for you, as it was for me. My thanks to my friends at Howard Publishing for the chance to read this one, in exchange for an honest review. Honestly, I cannot recommend this one highly enough. Put it on your shelf quickly and pass it on!