This is a book I picked up at Book Expo, as an advance reader’s copy. Many of the authors whose books I receive at Expo are completely unknown to me - which makes for exciting discoveries along with some disappointments. Long Way Gone fits somewhere in between.
I picked up the book from my very large “to be read” stack because of the subject matter - a teenager rejects all he knows and takes off for Nashville to begin a music career. Hardship ensues, and he takes a long, crooked path back home, which sounds a bit hackneyed, but it’s not quite a fairy tale. There were two things I did not expect about Long Way Gone - first, the depth of description and knowledge of the music industry; and second, that it’s Christian-themed. Not familiar with Charles Martin’s writing, I’d no idea what to expect, and the religious tone is not at all aggressive. What I got was a soulful and thoughtful look at and man’s intrepid life.
Martin begins the novel in present day, with a middle-aged man, Cooper, seasoned with his life’s extreme heartache’s. As we progress, we go back in time to visit Cooper’s childhood in Leadville, Colorado; adolescence performing with his father; and the characters who confront him with opportunity - both good and bad - along the way. Cooper has a natural gift of music that affects people in transcendent ways. He’s influenced by his father, a traveling tent preacher. We experience his break with his father, journey to Nashville, discovery of the love of his life, his steep fall, and his guardian angel. Throughout the pain, we see a good man that’s made a few wrong turns - detours that make it all the more real, though the story is certainly a unique one.
All of us could probably use a little faith, and I don’t mind a message of a broken spirit, hope, and redemption wrapped in a well-chronicled story. And I certainly enjoyed Martin’s profound grasp of music and its capacity for strong emotional reactions. Something with which I definitely connected.
Martin is a good storyteller, easy to read, and I appreciate the fact that not everything is neatly tied up in a bow. An accomplished writer with a solid fan base, a previous Martin book is being turned into a film - The Mountain Between Us - with Kate Winslet next year. While I probably won’t read the book, count me in to see the screen version.
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Vickie’s rating: 3 stars