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Then Like The Blind Man: Orbie's Story [Kindle Edition]

Freddie Owens
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (198 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $12.00
Kindle Price: $2.99
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Book Description

"A psychologically astute, skillful, engrossing and satisfying novel." --Starred as a book of exceptional merit by Kirkus Reviews--

Every once in awhile, you read a book in which every element fits together so perfectly that you just sit back in awe at the skill of the storyteller. Then Like the Blind Man is one of these books.  --The San Francisco Book Review-- 

"In an American coming-of-age novel, the author presents a stunning story with clarity and historical accuracy..."  --Publisher's Weekly--  

                                                                                                           ** AMAZON BESTSELLER **


                                                                        If you wanted to destroy something, why would you want to save it too?
A storm is brewing in the all-but-forgotten back country of Kentucky. And, for young Orbie Ray, the swirling heavens may just have the power to tear open his family's darkest secrets. Nine-year-old Orbie already has his cross to bear. After the sudden death of his father, his mother Ruby has off and married his father's co-worker and friend Victor, a slick-talking man with a snake tattoo. And, when Orbie crosses paths with the black Choctaw preacher, Moses Mashbone, he learns of a power that could expose and defeat his enemies, but can't be used for revenge. When a storm of unusual magnitude descends Orbie stumbles on a solution to the paradox, one both magical and ordinary. Question is, will it be enough?

                                                                                                                Violence & Magical Realism

Orbie renders events from a child's vividly fragmented point of view. His growth in understanding and courage - as he confronts first hand the realities of civil rights violations, domestic and child sexual abuse, religious violence and even murder - can be felt throughout the book.

A feeling of otherworldliness permeates the story, and its symbolism is omnipresent and beautifully handled. Realism becomes magical, as nothing is ever precisely what it seems.

                                                                                                               Sex Addiction & Abandonment

Orbie's mother, a susceptible woman, quickly remarries, leaving Orbie and his younger sister at the mercy of Victor, who resolves to leave him at his sharecropping grandparent's place, a dirt farm in Kentucky, while the family sets off for Florida.

With no end to his stay in sight, Orbie settles into routines all but unthinkable weeks before. He forms a strong bond with Willis, the stunningly talented, physically disabled black boy and protege to the uncanny shaman, Moses Mashbone.

                                                                                                                             Boy Meets World

Inevitably, he finds himself drawn into Moses' teachings. As he begins to tap his own mysterious powers, his mother and stepfather return, throwing his world back into chaos. Can he discover the truth about his father's death in time to protect all he holds dear? And can he do it without being damaged by his own hatred and violence?

                                                                                            "Reminiscent of To Kill A Mockingbird!" ----Kindle Nation----
                                                                                                  
                                                                                              Historical Fiction / Equal Parts Hamlet and Huckleberry Finn

                                                                                                                            Scroll Up to Look Inside!
                                                                                                                            Down to Read Reviews...


Editorial Reviews

Review

In his debut novel, Owens captures his characters' folksy Appalachian diction without overdoing it. He also renders a child's viewpoint with great psychological sensitivity: "I didn't like the way [Victor] was all the time trying to be on my mind. It was too close together somehow--like when Momma started talking about Jesus and wouldn't shut up."
A psychologically astute, skillful, engrossing and satisfying novel.
* Starred Kirkus Review *

Every once in awhile, you read a book in which every element fits together so perfectly that you just sit back in awe at the skill of the storyteller. Then Like the Blind Man is one of these books. ...[It] grabs you from the very first page and carries you along, breathless and tense, until the very last, very satisfying sentence. Freddie Owens has created something special.
* The San Francisco Book Review *

In an American coming-of-age novel, the author presents a stunning story with clarity and historical accuracy, rich in illuminating the Appalachian culture of the time period. ...[It] brings history alive, depicting American union labor practices and the racial prejudices that were so prevalent in the 1950's.
* Publisher's Weekly *

Orbie's sharecropping grandparents, by defying convention with unnerving grace, become founts of colloquial wisdom whose appeal is impossible to resist, and the Orbie they nurture -- the best version of a boy who may otherwise have been lost -- is someone the reader comes to love.
* Michelle Schingler / ForeWord Book Review *

The magical undercurrent that runs through the story adds to its feeling of other-worldliness, and the symbolism is both omnipresent and beautifully handled...
* Catherine Langrehr / The Indie Reader *

From the Author

Dead Chicken Memories...

I was born in Kentucky but grew up around Detroit. I would sometimes spend a week or two, once I spent six weeks, in Kentucky, staying with cousins or with my grandparents. It was an entirely different world for me, providing some of the best and worst times of my growing up years. I had a great time on a dairy farm with several of my cousins, milking cows, hoeing tobacco, running over the hills and up and down a creek that surrounded the big farm. I remember too, periods of abject boredom, sitting around my grandparent's old farm house with nothing to do but wander about the red clay yard or kill flies on my grandmother's screened-in back porch.  

Certain aspects of these growing up years did come to light in the novel, Then Like The Blind Man: Orbie's Story, knowingly at times, and at times spontaneously and distantly, as ghostly north-south structures, as composite personae, as moles and stains and tears and glistening rain and dark bottles of beer, rooms of cigarette smoke, hay lofts and pigs. Here's a quote from the acknowledgements.

  • Two memories served as starting points for a short story I wrote that eventually became this novel. One was of my Kentucky grandmother as she emerged from a shed with a white chicken held upside down in one of her strong bony hands. I, a boy of nine and a 'city slicker' from Detroit, looked on in wonderment and horror as she summarily wrung the poor creature's neck. It ran about the yard frantically, yes incredibly, as if trying to locate something it had misplaced as if the known world could be set right again, recreated, if only that one thing was found. And then of course it died. The second memory was of lantern light reflected off stones that lay on either side of a path to a storm cellar me and my grandparents were headed for one stormy night beneath a tornado's approaching din. There was wonderment there too, along with a vast and looming sense of impending doom.
If you enjoy reading this book half as much as I enjoyed writing it, you'll have enjoyed it indeed!

Best,
Freddie Owens

Product Details

  • File Size: 10547 KB
  • Print Length: 332 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1475084498
  • Publisher: Blind Sight Publications (November 26, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00A42VK4O
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #20,669 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
65 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Then Like the Blind Man: Orbie's Story December 9, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
hey..this is a really good read. Its not so easy now to find a good story and a good writer together. Often the "good" writers try so hard to be good they get in the way of the story. It is like they are not writing for the reader but for some literary prize. In this book the author is just darn good. I don't think its so easy to be a grown man and stay true to a young boy's voice and keep it really interesting at the same time. I love Orbie....i care about him a lot and i felt like i really got to be part of his life...and i found it really hard to let him go. So i read it again. I do not usually bother to write these reviews but this book really got my emotions reved up. Highly recommend giving it a read.
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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Destined To Be A Classic! December 7, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Debut author, Freddie Owens, swings for the fences and hits a home run with his excellent coming-of-age story set primarily in Kentucky, Then Like the Blind Man. When Orbie's father dies, his life changes forever. His mother, Ruby, finds herself attracted to the smooth-talking, poetic atheist Victor Denalsky, who had been Orbie's father's foreman at a steel mill in Detroit. After Orbie's father dies, Victor courts Orbie's mother, and eventually marries her. Not wanting to nor desiring to take care of a nine-year-old boy with an attitude, like Orbie, who can't stand his stepfather, anyway, Ruby and Victor decide to drop Orbie off at Ruby's parents' house in Kentucky, with the promise that they'll come back to get him once they've settled in Florida, where Victor supposedly has a job lined up. Orbie's mother and Victor take with them Orbie's younger sister, Missy.

The novel is told in the first person by Orbie, who, though young, is very insightful for his age. As I read, I was often reminded of another famous novel told from the POV of a child, Scout, To Kill a Mockingbird. The themes are different, but Orbie's and Scout's perspectives on African Americans in the 1950¡äs are significant to understanding both books. Orbie has some bad experiences with some of the black people he comes in contact with early on in the novel, so he calls them the "n" word at various points in the story.

Through the course of Then Like the Blind Man, Orbie eventually realizes that his grandparents are great people who love him. They may not have attained a high level of school education, but they are wise about farm life and human nature.

They don't like it that their daughter, Ruby, has developed a prejudice for blacks, nor that she's passed it on to Orbie.
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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Wow read that engrosses you January 10, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
I never read a book like this, and I read a lot! It was quite engaging.....the characters are varied and real; and some of them are just one of a kind that you will not likely encounter again!
Very unusual read; and I found the voice of the nine year old protagonist to be especially poignant. The story weaves a finely written tale that engrosses you; angers you, and makes you want to cheer for Orbie as he quietly navigates through the experiences of his encounters in a very small Kentucky town in the 1950's. Would recommend to anyone; and once you are gripped by it, you will want to finish it to know just what happens, like I did! The ending is superbly written; and you won't forget it........
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great story! July 12, 2013
Format:Paperback
Orbie has suffered a lot in his short 9 years of life. His father died in a tragic accident and he has a too-soon stepdaddy, Victor, that barely tolerates him. So at the first chance, he is given the boot in Kentucky to stay with his grandparents. His Momma promises that they will come back for him as soon as they get things settled in Florida, but of course, it takes longer than she had planned.

The story takes place in the late 50's, so racial prejudices are front and center in this coming of age tale. Orbie arrives in Kentucky with a bunch of hatred in his heart. Hatred for his stepdaddy, hatred for God, and hatred for black people. (The N* word is used frequently due to the subject matter, so readers should be aware) He uses his 'sailor's mouth' to fend off anyone that might truly care for him. His Granpaw has a mouth to match his and a wicked sense of humor. Both he and Granny have beliefs that Orbie just doesn't care for, such as race equality and attending church. Slowly but surely, Orbie realizes how little he really 'knows' about life. His grandparents and a new friend helps to open his eyes and heart to new experiences.

What I like most about this book is that the Orbie doesn't all of a sudden mature and turn into an angel. His character develops at a very realistic pace, and does things at true to life speed. One of my pet peeves is when a character in a book has a sudden change of heart just because it would fit the plot better.

There is good deal of magical realism in this book. I really enjoyed that element of the story. It softens the edges on many of the serious subjects (child abuse, death, racism, domestic violence) dealt with in this novel. Also, loved the way the author brought all of the people in this novel to life.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good first effort May 1, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
This unpretentious first book is an emotional story, well told. The pacing is great. There's a nice ebb and flow building to one heck of a climax. You believe (for the most part) that it is from a child's POV. And the elements of magic and small town beliefs rings true.
The only negative for me, was that the author occasionally slipped into contemporary language or thought and so I lost the sense of space and time.
All in all, a very enjoyable book.
Thanks
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this Book!
I was surprised at how good this book is. I loved the characters, the setting in the backwoods of Kentucky, the way it dealt with issues of race, family violence and more. Read more
Published 3 days ago by Stormy
5.0 out of 5 stars BOOK
I have not had a chance to sit down and read this book yet but I plan to read it soon.
Published 3 days ago by Beth Alderson
5.0 out of 5 stars Unusual and Entertaining
I read a lot and usually have a book going. This story is different than the norm for me, but I will definitely remeber it. Read more
Published 6 days ago by finnmom
5.0 out of 5 stars country boys life
it reminded me of my young life growing up in the country with my grandfather, all the chickens I had to feed and take care of.
Published 7 days ago by kensmith
2.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing child/animal abuse scene; author's voice not always...
This book is captivating, but I ended up not finishing it because of a scene toward the end that so disturbingly portrays child and animal abuse that I could not banish it from my... Read more
Published 8 days ago by Ann B. Elwood
4.0 out of 5 stars Leaves you warm and fuzzy
A good fast read. Full of unexpected turns and good feelings. I found myself remembering how I felt at Orbie's age.
Published 10 days ago by Jude
5.0 out of 5 stars mesmerizing!
I was sucked into Orbie's world from the first few sentences. This book is a powerful statement about love and family.
Published 10 days ago by Donna Shaw
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly Good
I don't know what I expected when I chose this book to read but was surprised how much I enjoyed it.
Published 11 days ago by Allez2008
5.0 out of 5 stars loved it
All the great novels of the south combine in this book for a deeply moving story. Its well written, a smooth read and wonderfully proofed for errors (hard to find in an ebook... Read more
Published 13 days ago by Liz
5.0 out of 5 stars Kentucky Bluefire and Truth
Being from Kentucky and knowing the legends of the hills, this book rings true. It made me laugh and cry over times long gone and memories that linger behind the ancient hills of... Read more
Published 15 days ago by N. Farley
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More About the Author

A poet and fiction writer, my work has been published in Poet Lore, Crystal Clear and Cloudy, and Flying Colors Anthology. I am a past attendee of Pikes Peak Writer's Conferences and the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, and a current member of Lighthouse Writer's Workshop in Denver, Colorado. In addition, as a professional counselor and psychotherapist, I for many years counseled perpetrators of domestic violence and sex offenders, and provided therapies for individuals and families. I hold a master's degree in contemplative psychotherapy from Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. Born in Kentucky and raised in Detroit, I drew inspiration for my first novel, Then Like The Blind Man: Orbie's Story, from childhood experiences growing up around Harlan's Crossroads, Kentucky. My life-long studies of Tibetan Buddhism and Vedanta not to mention encounters with Native American Shamanism are also of note in this regard.

Two memories served as starting points for a short story I wrote that eventually became the novel, Then Like the Blind Man / Orbie's Story. One was of my Kentucky grandmother as she emerged from a shed with a white chicken held upside down in one of her strong bony hands. I, a boy of nine and a "city slicker" from Detroit, looked on in wonderment and horror as she summarily wrung the poor creature's neck. I watched as it ran about the yard frantically, yes incredibly, as if trying to locate something it had misplaced as if the known world could be set aright, recreated, if only that one thing could be found. And then of course it died. The second memory was of lantern light reflected off stones that lay on either side of a path to a storm cellar me and my grandparents were headed for one stormy night beneath a tornado's approaching din. There was wonderment there too, along with a vast and looming sense of impending doom. For these and many others of my childhood memories I owe my grandparents. Had I not been exposed to their homespun and wizened ways I would not have been able to begin my short story much less this novel. The same goes for my dear, good-hearted parents who have survived many bad times to enjoy the good.




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