Coming of Age

Book Review: The Mulligans of Mt. Jefferson


Don Reid

SubTitle:  A Novel 

Publisher:  David C Cook 

List Price: $14.99 

Pages: 336 

ISBN:  978-1434764942 

Mulligan means “do over” and it is the name of a Mt. Jefferson Restaurant.  

Harlan, Buddy, and Cal grew up as best friends—none of them named Mulligan. This story tells of their growing-up years in the thirties to fifties. The adult story takes place in 1959. It starts as Harlan lies in the hospital suffering from a gunshot wound from an early-morning intruder. 

As children, Cal kept them all in trouble. Harlan was the charmer and girl magnet.  Buddy fell in love with his future wife as she practiced the piano in their home. The early years echo Mayberry, RFD, but, in manhood, each man must face his sins and suffer the consequences of them. In one case, he suffers for another’s sin as his business falters. 

As men, Harlan runs a jewelry store, Buddy joins the police force, and Cal becomes a Methodist minister. He never tells us what happened to change him, keeping it as a mysterious secret. All three manage parental businesses as young men. Later, as a police officer, Buddy must be tough as he tries to get the truth from the reticent Harlan and his wife Darcy. Cal tries to comfort them all. Will their friendship survive this difficult period? 

The reader will find the characters likeable and the ending satisfyingly unexpected. The writing carries you along in a readable sequence. However, the long descriptions of their growing-up years slow the story. Perhaps they would fit better coming gradually throughout the mystery. At times, I forgot that Harlan lingered in a hospital.

I received this book from NetGalley. This is an honest review.



Book Review: Reggie, You Can't Change Your Past But You Can Change Your Future

Reggie Reggie Dabbs with John Driver

Subtitle: You Can’t Change Your Past But You Can Change Your Future

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

List Price: $15.99

Pages: 240

ISBN: 978-0849946264

Reggie Dabbs travels the world as a good pied piper to teens, leading them out of the dungeon of self-loathing in to the sunlight of a future and a hope. He gives his testimony as motivational speaker. Then he tells them they have worth and they will do wonderful things. The book, Reggie, explains his philosophy and relates his testimony. Pages follow each chapter so readers can understand how their past might have affected their lives. 

I hesitated to read Reggie because I thought “Oh no. another poor li’l kid story.” I reviewed other books in that genre and liked them for their happy endings. Presently, I don’t want the sadness. 

But I enjoyed Reggie’s story. He’s laugh-aloud funny even while telling of heartache when his schoolmates teased him because he looked like Fat Albert, Bill Cosby’s cartoon creation—and his sadness in discovering the parents he loved adopted him. He hurt for the mother who had him in prostitution to feed the rest of her children.  

He believes too many children grow up feeling without value. It’s his mission to set them on a path of self-respect and achievement. He speaks like your neighbor across the fence, so those who want a scholarly thesis may want to bypass this. Worth reading for those with a heart for teens or a heart for a man who took a life of anything but privilege and, with God, changes society, one child at a time.

Book Review: Craving Grace: A Story of Faith, Failure, and My Search for Sweetness

Craving grace Lisa Velthouse  

SubTitle:  A Story of Faith, Failure, and My Search for Sweetness 

Publisher:  Tyndale House Publishers

Imprint:  SaltRiver

List Price: $16.99    

Pages: 272  

ISBN:  9781414335773 

This book may have begun as a diary of Lisa’s six-month fast from sweets. The reader sees her maturing spiritually and chronologically. Lisa spends her life trying to do good to earn God’s approval. Her commitment is impressive. So, to get it right, she decides to do more—she embarks on a fast from sweets for six months. When she starts, her faith feels flat to her. But it isn’t until she finds herself failing at things she had committed her life to—like saving her first kiss—she even wrote a book about that--that she begins to experience God’s Grace. She comes to realize that God isn’t looking for our perfection, but for surrender. 

Craving Grace is a book for the young—probably a little too young for me. I found myself put off by her vows of her own perfection, but as she gets more deeply into her fast, she looks outwardly more and understands God more. The perfection crumbles a little. Readers will find some valuable lessons here. Once or twice, I laughed aloud. I hope she meant for me to.