About the Book:
What do you get when you mix an orphaned girl just coming of age, a grieving, pain-filled family, a rural Kentucky barnyard, a donkey who has lived since Adam and has stories to tell, a mentally-handicapped man, and an apocalyptic climax? Happily, you get a literary novel that maintains its lyrical language and dramatic pace from the first to the last page and leaves you thinking, smiling, wondering, looking at this life and the next with eyes to see in fresh, new ways.
When a young girl’s father dies, and her mother abandons her at her paternal grandparents’ home in Kentucky, no one helps her cope with the cloud of death that hovers over the family … until she wanders down to the neighbor’s barn. There in an earthy, unlikely haven, vistas open to Spring-baby that transcend time and place and even death.
For readers who love well-written fiction that is both personal and sweeping in scope. If you enjoy novels with literary merit that show the intersection of the grit and grief and glory of life on earth with the presence and power and persuasion of the supernatural and heavenly ~ you’ll likely be enthralled by this story.
At the back of the book is a discussion guide for reading groups and book clubs.
Creative drawings by Raw Spoon, at the head of each chapter, bring visual life and added sensory dimension to the experience of reading this book.
About the Author:
J. Michael Dew lives with his wife and three young daughters in Atlanta, Georgia. He was born and raised in Warren County, Pennsylvania. He earned a B.A. in English from Lock Haven University and an MA and PhD in Literature and Criticism from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He is an Associate Professor of English at Georgia Perimeter College where he is also the Honors Coordinator for the Dunwoody campus. In his spare time he enjoys being a husband and a dad. And fishing. He loves a glinty, trouty stream.
I really wanted to enjoy this book, really I loved the description of it and the story sounded excellent, however there was nothing mentioned about a donkey who could talk – this was the hard selling point for me. I didn’t think that the stories to tell donkey meant that the donkey literally tells stories, and the entire book, after Spring-baby meets the donkey switches between an actual story and that of the donkey who has seen Adam and Eve, Abraham and even was the donkey that was with Balaam and the one that Christ rode on and more. That said – I liked the story – and I would have liked it even more had the whole donkey story part not been added.
The story is about loss and how everyone deals with it differently – Spring-baby’s mom leaves her with her paternal grandparents and needs her own time to mourn away from her children. The Grandma mourns by hating the daughter in law, or at least that is the feeling I get and smoking in her bathroom. The Grandpa is just sort of there, a ghost of who he was before while Spring-baby tries to figure out grief on her own until she meets the man who cares for the donkey and the donkey’s stories help her figure out just about everything. Having lost people who are close to me I haven’t had that gaping wound – I miss my Grandparents – but I also recognize, as a Christian that death is a part of life – and I’ve always understood that even as a child (maybe it was because my mom and then my dad were nurses so it was a part of their life and so a part of mine?).
I can see someone who has a very ‘deep’ mind liking this or maybe even a modern Christian, one who embraces things that I don’t agree with – and as I said I would have liked the story much more without the donkey part. Gadly Plain can mean anything from “way away”, “Heaven”, “paradise” or however you interpret it and so if you prefer to see Heaven how it is described in the Bible you won’t find that here. I can though, think of several friends who would like this book, but for me it just wasn’t my cup of tea.
You can buy Gadly Plain on Amazon.
You can read what others are saying on the Cladach site.