The author’s debut novel focuses on the Flints, a family of Pentecostal preachers from Depression-era and postwar Leatherwood, Tennessee. The Flints and their friends spend their lives looking for signs and miracles. They risk their lives in witness to the Lord as they spread the Word by drinking poison and handling dangerous snakes. Charles Flint knows in his heart his son Jacob is special, even a prophet. As they preach across the Deep South, they learn about each other and their faith. Jacob ultimately discovers the yearning of the human heart crosses barriers of time and color.
The words on every page of this novel demand you read further for the sheer joy of the prose; the poetry of expression plays counterpoint to the ugliness of the time and place. However, characterization was of secondary importance to beauty of the language.
The entire story is told in the present tense – even the flashbacks. Because of that, the reader is pulled out of the context and the history of the period. The description fails to anchor the reader to the scenes, because the writing style overwhelms every moment of the story. How could these mellow, one-dimensional characters be fired with the Spirit of God?
It was difficult to become emotionally involved with the characters. I found myself reading, not from the need to know what happened to these people, but to see how the author would word it. Even the shocking ending left me unmoved. Carrella has a glorious gift for language. I hope his next book is more character-focused.