51cwfo8lw6LI first became aware of Billy Coffey a few years ago through a link to his blog on another site. I read his work (at that time through blog posts only, as his first novel Snow Day had yet to be released)  and it stuck with me like few others’ did. He had, and has, a writing style that captures the very heart of a matter and holds it, like a lightening bug in a mason jar, for further examination. It’s both simple and profound, and always, always rich. In short, it floats my boat.

I have loved both of his novels – Paper Angels was the second – and both offered wonderfully developed characters who live in the fictitious small town of Mattingly, Virginia. So, even though I don’t typically do book reviews (seriously, who am I?), when he asked me to be a part of the launch of his newest novel, When Mockingbirds Sing, I knew it was a project I wanted to be a part of. I was thrilled at the opportunity to return to Mattingly, knowing wonderful things would await my arrival, and I was certainly not disappointed.

But I was surprised.

Surprised by the way each trip to Mattingly brought with it a little more of the extraordinary than one might expect to find in such an ordinary small town…surprised at the mystery and the ‘maybe’ found with the turn of each page. Pages which, I might add, turned at an alarming rate, try though I did to slow them down.

Mystery and maybe are possibly two words not typically associated with a book about faith – even a work of fiction. But, to me, they are true and honest and at the very crux of the matter. I think we choose faith because of them both, choosing the constancy of it when we realize there is no constant to be found that’s birthed from this world. Possibly my favorite thing about this book is how it examines just about every approach to faith there is, through each of the town’s colorful residents, and how they relate with one another through those belief systems. I was able to connect with just about every one of them on some level (as I daresay could every reader), seeing true colors drop masks when the landscape began to rapidly shift around them. As is so true in life, it’s the mystery and the maybe that bring revelation in the end.

You’re going to want to visit Mattingly yourself. And it’s possible, when you do, that you’ll hear Billy’s name and work tossed around comparatively with such company as Stephen King and Frank Peretti. While he’s certainly deserving, I think you’ll find his work distinctly his own, a fresh Southern story teller with a keen eye for looking at all sides of a thing, and pointing out the special light.

Just like that jar of lightning bugs.

If you’re like me, on your way home you’ll be studying your own jar of those nightlights for quite a while before you’re ready to let them go.

Quite a while, indeed.

I’m giving away TWO SIGNED COPIES of When Mockingbirds Sing this Friday, June 14th (winner chosen via RandomPicker)!

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If just want to get reading, click here to purchase your copy today!


*book cover image from Amazon

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the book mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”