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The Battle Hymn Blues Paperback – September 21, 2012
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About the Author
Baker Lawley has worked as a septic system tester, a lifeguard, a school uniform salesman, an editor, a freelance writer, and currently as a Professor of Creative Writing and English. He is an award-winning writer of young adult novels, short stories, and writing guides, with stories published in prestigious literary journals like Copper Nickel, The Cream City Review, Eleven Eleven, and The Southeast Review. Baker lives with his wife and daughter and a very lazy hounddog in Minneapolis, Minnesota. You can follow Baker, contact him, and get a free ebook at his website, www.bakerlawley.com.
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Top customer reviews
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Baker Lawley takes the time to craft a portrait of the South through character insights, plot elements and wonderful imagery. Readers are introduced to Civil War re-enactments, biscuits at a country store, kudzu, small-town gossip and small-town loyalty, without being beaten over the head with the idea that these things exist just "because it's the South." It's not trite, cliche, or overwrought...It's just a great story that happens to be set in Alabama.
The paranormal elements of the story are also well-used. The supernatural occurrences are believable and serve a purpose by offering unique insight into the protagonist and the players around him.
But, my absolute favorite part of this novel was Stoney's voice. While reading, I found myself wishing I'd known a kid like this in high school, and when I was done reading, I had that sense of loss...You know, when you enjoy a character so much that you kind of miss being in their head when the book is done. I missed Stoney Nix, and it's been awhile since I've encountered a character in a novel that I enjoyed so much.
In conclusion, while I would certainly recommend the book to any young readers, I recommend it just as strongly to adults as well. The plot is interesting, the characters are endearing, and the setting and imagery is extraordinary, no matter what the reader's age or gender.
The MC is the narrator of the book, a sixteen year old musical genius whose only hope of getting out of his dying town is a scholarship to college based on his musical abilities. The first half of the book lays the groundwork of Stoney Nix's life. Then a horrible accident happens that could quite literally destroy everything he has ever hoped for. Can he overcome? Ah, but that is what the second half of the book is for. That is where this book crosses from fine literature into pure magic. That was where my enjoyment of the book turned into sheer amazement. This is such a beautifully written novel, so simple yet so profound.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. You will read it, ponder it, read it again, and treasure it. There is a paranormal element to the story, but I wondered if the "ghosts" were actually parts of Stoney's consciousness pushing him harder and harder to keep his dream alive. Stoney is probably the best MC I have read in many years.
What a triumph. And the title of my review refers to book as well as Madeline L'engles.
One of the most interesting aspects of this book to me was how music was such an integral part of Stoney's existence. I live with people who have perfect pitch (thank goodness I don't, it seems more of a curse than a blessing) and live their lives to their own personal soundtrack. The way Lawley wrote Stoney's internal monologue in relation to music was SO real to me because of that.
I also loved the way the past kept intruding on the present. Not only the obsession with the past (real or imagined) that Stoney's dad has, but the way the Lawley weaves the past and present together into a whole new tapestry. It's not quite a ghost story, it's not quite magical realism...or is it? It's awesome, whatever it is.
Really loved it.