I’ve never met Billy Coffey in real life. I’ve only had the privilege of knowing him through his writing, which leaves me–as with most anyone who takes the time to read his novels–blessed by the way he wrestles with faith and life through his pen. He’s a storyteller for the ages, who combines enough magic with reality to leave you wondering … and wonder is a hard thing to come by these days.
When Mockingbirds Sing is his third novel, and I dare say his bravest, to date. I’ll start with a synopsis, and end with my thoughts on this special novel. I would’ve offered a give-a-way, but thankfully for me (and sorry for you), he signed the copy he sent me. With my name.
Besides, you’ll want to buy one of your own!
In When Mockingbirds Sing, Leah is a child from away, isolated from her peers because of her stutter. But then she begins painting scenes that are epic in scope, brilliant in detail, and suffused with rich, prophetic imagery. When the event foreshadowed in the first painting dramatically comes true, the town of Mattingly takes notice.
Leah attributes her ability to foretell the future to an invisible friend she calls the Rainbow Man. Some of the townsfolk are enchanted with her. Others fear her. But there is one thing they all agree on—there is no such thing as the Rainbow Man.
Her father, the town psychologist, is falling apart over his inability to heal his daughter or fix his marriage. And the town minister is unraveled by the notion a mere child with no formal training may be hearing from God more clearly than he does.
While the town bickers over what to do with this strange child, the content of Leah’s paintings grows darker. Still, Leah insists that the Rainbow Man’s heart is pure. But then a dramatic and tragic turn of events leaves the town reeling and places everyone’s lives in danger. Now the people of Mattingly face a single choice:
Will they cling to what they know … or embrace the things Leah believes in that cannot be seen?
I’d heard Billy talk about When Mockingbirds Sing, watched the trailer, and still, I had no idea what I was in for when I got into this magical book. The protagonist, Leah, had enough of a combination of innocence and gumption to make me smitten with her within a few pages. The other, wide-range of characters are quite well-developed, interacting with her and the unexpected plot twists in believable ways–which is quite an artistic accomplishment, considering the suspension of disbelief Coffey is asking of his readers.
When Mockingbirds Sing is a book about the possibility of the prophetic in a skeptical world; about the possibility of hope from the overlooked and hopeless; about the possibility of miracles in the midst of mind-numbing realism. Written with deft and thoughtfulness, Billy warms the heart once again, by extracting the extraordinary from the simplest of towns and times. And though the reader might be left with more questions about faith than answers, therein lies the gift of this rare and beautiful read.
About the Author
Billy Coffey‘s critically acclaimed books combine rural Southern charm with a vision far beyond the ordinary. He is a regular contributor to several publications, where he writes about faith and life. Billy lives with his wife and two children in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Visit him at www.billycoffey.com.