I started the novel with huge expectations. I didn’t know anything about it, but found it on Book Sneeze & thought I’d give it a try. The description sounded awesome; spiritual but with a supernatural twist. I even found a YouTube video promoting the novel & it really peaked my interest.
At first I couldn’t put the novel down! Loved it! It’s not a long read (about 330pages). The chapters are fairly short & divided up by “days” leading up to a town carnival. The main character is a child named Leah; an only child, introvert, with a stutter. The novel centers around her & her relationship with an imaginary character she’s named, “The Rainbow Man”. Through her The Rainbow Man tells her things & gets her to do things that are a little off-the-wall; she paints a picture with hidden numbers that cause a town member to win the lottery, she approaches an abusive husband at the mall & tells him things that nobody else could possibly know, etc. Every main-character in this novel is pained in some way; her father is a psychiatrist who escapes into his work, therefore, neglecting his wife & child causing problems at home, her good friend & elder, Barney is struggling to take care of his wife’s failing health, the town minister is lacking in his faith & finding it impossible that God would speak his Word through a un-“religious” child with no formal Biblical training & her best friend Allie wants to believe her friend, but when it gets personal for her, she fights with unbelief. Not to mention the town, Mattingly, is full of supporting characters each with their own demons & secrets.
After the initial excitement & allure of the first few chapters wore off, I found this novel…well, kind of boring. I hate to admit that “hearing” Leah’s stutter was a total put-off for me. She has quite a bit of dialogue in the novel (obviously) & I found it annoying the way the author wrote her lines (“It’s nuh-no-ttt-not a h-h-h-ho-hole Mr. Bu-Buh-Barney”) I know that it was used for descriptive purposes because Leah has a stutter, but it added quite a bit of un-necessary paragraphs. Seemed to take a long time for the novel to actually take off. I also didn’t like the introduction of so many sub-characters, too many to keep track off! And I got so confused when the author started talking about a town called Away, had nothing to do with the actual storyline. “The Rainbow Man” character was never really settled for me; was it God, was it an Angel, perhaps even the Devil??? I’m sure that was the author’s point, that we draw our own conclusion, but I’ve got this “thing” about wanting a novel to be “closed & finished” when I’m done reading it. I really didn’t get the whole “Rainbow Man” concept. Reverend Grogginess was an interesting character. While I did agree with some of his ideals & beliefs, he was a little to Bible-Thumping for me. If the author’s point was that through Reverend Groggins’ character people would be introduced to God I think he turned people off more than he led. Barney’s character I did really like. Every small town has that one old guy who is just a good man. Little rough around the edges, but loves the Lord & lives his life very simply. Things are black & white for Barney & I love that! The chapters that tugged at my heartstring most were the ones where he took care of his ailing & disabled wife, Mabel. During her passing, I wished the author would’ve focused more on The Rainbow Man being present at that time. He did focus on it somewhat, but it seemed a little under-developed to me (and forgetful). Leah’s dad, Tom, the town psychiatrist was an interesting guy. It’s not that I disliked his character, but I didn’t necessarily like it either. I never really understood what his deal was. For being such a main character, he seemed a little confused to me. Like the author didn’t really know what to do with him. He left me feeling a little…blah. Leah’s best friend, Allie, was cute as a button. She was the typical bubbly, funny little kid that you can’t help but fall in love with. Again, her character seemed a little undone & I wasn’t sure what the author’s intent was with her.
The storyline was weak. The big event that the whole novel alluded to (as the chapters were all labeled: Chapter 6, 4 days before the Carnival….Chapter 9, one hour before the Carnival…etc.) that I was expecting something huge to happen. It was a tornado. True, a tornado that ripped the town apart but I was left feeling a little disappointed. To be honest, the whole novel & storyline reminded me of a movie I saw a few years ago (that scared the beejeebees out of me) called the Mothman Prophesies. I just didn’t get it….
I wouldn’t recommend this book to a friend. It’s a fast read, even though it took me 7months to get through it. But mostly because it bored the snot out of me. “When Mockingbirds Sing” turned out to be a big disappointment.