The Wrecked, Blessed Body of Shelton Lafleur by John Gregory Brown, John G. Brown
General Fiction Large Print Edition It s New Orleans during the Depression and 8-year-old Shelton Lafleur tumbles from the top branches of a live oak tree and is crippled for life. His body wrecked but his spirit strong, he flees an oppressive orphanage to face the world alone. A man named Minou takes Shelton under his wing and teaches him how to survive in the segregated South. In a voice filled with rage, regret and surprising humor, Shelton narrates a tale that is both fateful and unforgettable, recounting a life of adversity overcome by grace.
This was one of those books I picked up in the library because it just happened to be there and it had an unusual title. It took me a while to get into it. At first I thought I wouldn't finish it, but the next thing I knew, I couldn't put it down. Shelton LaFleur's young life is tragic. He is a black child being reared by a white mother, who is ill. The circumstances of his birth and how he became part of this woman's family is heart-rending and misguided (let alone illegal). At age eight, he wanders away from home one night, gets lost, climbs a tree for a better view, and falls. He ends up being taken to a home for orphaned boys, where he not only has to deal with his permanent injuries, but physical and psychological abuse, as well. His life becomes a torment. Eventually a family takes him in, but what a family it turns out to be. In spite of the painful circumstances of his childhood, and maybe because of them, LaFleur grows up to be a successful painter. Though some of his work is enigmatic and dark, he finds an audience as he matures. The story is written from the vantage point of the old man he's become. It's been eight months since I read this book, and I still think about it. That's a book worth reading! Carolyn Rowe Hill