Orbie has suffered a lot in his short 9 years of life. His father died in a tragic accident and he has a too-soon stepdaddy, Victor, that barely tolerates him. So at the first chance, he is given the boot in Kentucky to stay with his grandparents. His Momma promises that they will come back for him as soon as they get things settled in Florida, but of course, it takes longer than she had planned.
The story takes place in the late 50's, so racial prejudices are front and center in this coming of age tale. Orbie arrives in Kentucky with a bunch of hatred in his heart. Hatred for his stepdaddy, hatred for God, and hatred for black people. (The N* word is used frequently due to the subject matter, so readers should be aware) He uses his 'sailor's mouth' to fend off anyone that might truly care for him. His Granpaw has a mouth to match his and a wicked sense of humor. Both he and Granny have beliefs that Orbie just doesn't care for, such as race equality and attending church. Slowly but surely, Orbie realizes how little he really 'knows' about life. His grandparents and a new friend helps to open his eyes and heart to new experiences.
What I like most about this book is that the Orbie doesn't all of a sudden mature and turn into an angel. His character develops at a very realistic pace, and does things at true to life speed. One of my pet peeves is when a character in a book has a sudden change of heart just because it would fit the plot better.
There is good deal of magical realism in this book. I really enjoyed that element of the story. It softens the edges on many of the serious subjects (child abuse, death, racism, domestic violence
) dealt with in this novel. Also, loved the way the author brought all of the people in this novel to life. The descriptions and dialect were so rich that it was easy to immerse myself into their lives. I learned some new phrases and words that I've never heard before. "Soak" is a morning delicacy "By grabs!"
I highly recommend this book for anyone who would enjoy a story with just the right mix of good vs evil, suspense, humor, and mystery. There are also trained chickens, rain skulls, and snake handling preachers. A little something for everyone ;)
I received this book in a goodreads giveaway. My review is unbiased.