Wednesday, January 10, 2024

APPALACHIAN SONG by Michele Shocklee, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney

"A preacher from East Tennessee handed me off to my parents. That's the entirety of my pathetic tale. Who knows if anything they were told about me is true."

Country music star Walker Wylie was shocked to learn that he was adopted; first of all, why had his parents hidden the truth from him all these years, and secondly, why only after his father's death had his mother divulged the truth? Struggling to regain purpose and identity, Wylie goes on a search to find answers, soliciting the help of a lovely mountain midwife Reese Chandler, whose work as an adoption advocate should be to his advantage, because there was one thing he did know, "Bertie Jenkins, midwife" had attended his birth.

Decades earlier, Bertie Jenkins and her four sisters were living their comfortable subsistence lifestyle high up in the Tennessee mountains when gunshots reverberated through the hills one warm June morning. They were horrified to find a critically wounded young teen on the edge of their property . . . actually there were two victims . . . the dear one and her unborn child. Nursing the expectant mother back to health left the Jenkins women with a decision to make . . . what to do next?

Expecting to read a good book and falling instead into the pages of an extraordinary one is always a pleasant surprise. Filled with characters uniquely suited to play their roles, the dual lines move towards each other in perfect harmony; even Wylie's cranky moods (like dissonant chords) do not thwart Reese's sweet, positive, wise-beyond-her-years attitude and patient sense of humor.

Beyond those selling points, this concert of tragedy and triumph has deep, spiritual undertones which testify of God's over-arching providence, His love, sacrifice, and forgiveness, and His endless grace which covers a multitude of sins . . . allowing each of us to be called sons and daughters, adopted into the family of God . . . a truth that changed the course of Songbird's (that's the name she gave Bertie) life forever.

"Sweet child of mine, So perfect in every way, Who will you become? Sweet son of my heart, You may not understand. . . "
*I purchased this book and was under no obligation to provide a positive review.
4.5 stars

BackCover Blurb:

Forever within the memories of my heart.

Always remember, you are perfectly loved.

Bertie Jenkins has spent forty years serving as a midwife for her community in the Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee. Out of all the mothers she’s tended, none affects her more than the young teenager who shows up on her doorstep, injured, afraid, and expecting, one warm June day in 1943. As Bertie and her four sisters tenderly nurture Songbird back to health, the bond between the childless midwife and the motherless teen grows strong. But soon Songbird is forced to make a heartbreaking decision that will tear this little family apart.

Thirty years later, the day after his father’s funeral, Walker Wylie is stunned to learn he was adopted as an infant. The famous country singer enlists the help of adoption advocate Reese Chandler in the hopes of learning why he was abandoned by his birth parents. With the only clue he has in hand, Walker and Reese head deep into the Appalachian Mountains to track down Bertie Jenkins, the midwife who holds the secrets to Walker’s past.

For fans of historical and Southern fiction comes a poignant story of love and sacrifice set in the heart of Appalachia, from award-winning author Michelle Shocklee.

Full-length Christian historical fiction
Standalone novel
Book length: approximately 94,000 words
Includes discussion questions for book groups

Tyndale House, October, 2023
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook:

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