Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Book Review: And the Rain Came Down

And The Rain Came Down is a novel I probably would not have discovered had it not been for becoming an acquaintance of the author through an online discussion forum of things of mutual interest, as well as becoming friends on Facebook.   When I opened the book and read the first paragraph, I knew this was a novel I wouldn't put down until the the end. 

And The Rain Came Down

S.A. Bailey tells the story of Jebediah Shaw in a matter-of-fact first person style that has you believing you're reading a non-fiction narrative. His descriptions of the people and landscapes of East Texas are so real you know he's writing from first-hand experience as a resident of the area. Having lived in the South most of my life as well, these characters and their hidden world of drugs and corruption beneath the surface of sleepy small towns scattered through the rural countryside and woods are all too real to me.

S.A. Bailey knows the territory, as evidenced in descriptions such as this: "Bear Wallace, my partner and oldest friend, lived way outside of town, near the county line, down a dirt road no one with any sense would venture unless they knew they were welcome. It just looked foreboding, as if it were always autumn, the long dirt driveway leading off the blacktop shrouded beneath the thick canopy of age-old oak and pine, toward a dark whirlpool where the ghouls of young nightmares never left."

But As the Rain Came Down is so much more than just evocative descriptions that make you feel like an outsider catching a glimpse of a dangerous corner of America that at times seems like another country. The story takes you in from the first page and leads relentlessly into the downward spiral of deeper and deeper trouble that Jeb gets himself into in his quest to bring home the bread and make a life with some sense of normalcy and stability for the woman he loves. Torn between two worlds - that of the soldier who can never really come completely home from a war that changed him forever, and that of the man he wants to be for her - the man he knows he never really can be, Jeb will do anything to give her what he thinks she wants. The further he goes down that path, the more elusive his goal becomes. Once you're caught up in Jeb's story, you won't be able to escape any more than he can, and you won't put this book down until you're right there with him at the conclusion of this wild and dangerous ride.

If there's a sequel to As the Rain Came Down, I'll eagerly look forward to finding out what happens to Jeb next. But whatever S.A. Bailey writes to follow up this great first novel, I'll be waiting to read it.

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