Monday, April 26, 2010

She-Rain A Story of Hope (by Michael Cogdill) Book Review

About the Book: She Rain: A Story of Hope by Michael Cogdill (Morgan James Publishing; March 2010: 978-1-6003770202.

In the early 20th Century, a pair of North Carolina mountain children sow the seed of a love that becomes their only solace in the hard yet beautiful world they know. They grow it from a steep ground of poverty, ignorance and violence.

Years later, bloodshed sends Frank Locke on the run, deep into the wilderness, abandoning his love, Mary Lizbeth. A whitewater river washes this desperate soul into the hands of Sophia. Frank discovers a luminous woman steeped in mystery, trapped in a tragically brilliant life. Sophia is far ahead of her time and secreted from the world. She awakens Frank’s mind and they rise to meet a love that binds three people for a lifetime.

She-Rain speaks of lives soaring beyond heartbreak, fundamentalism and self-destruction. Through the most graceful longing, two women in love with one man ultimately prove the power of human hearts to answer high callings.

About the Author: Michael Cogdill is blessed as one of the most honored television storytellers in America. His cache of awards includes 24 Emmys and the National Edward R. Murrow for a broad range of achievement, from live reporting to long-form storytelling. His television credits as a journalist include CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, and The Today Show, and Michael's interview history crosses a wide horizon: The Reverend Billy Graham, Dr. Mehmet Oz of Oprah fame, Dr. Henry Kissinger, Abby Hoffman, Senator Hillary Clinton, Senator John McCain, Howard K. Smith, James Brown, Keith Lockhart of the Boston Pops and many other newsmakers. His coverage credits include Presidents and Vice Presidents of the United States.

Michael spent ten years writing She-Rain, letting it evolve into a world of fiction drawn from his upbringing in Western North Carolina but reaching far beyond. His other writing credits are Cracker the Crab and the Sideways Afternoon -- a children's motivational book, and a self-help volume, Raise the Haze. Michael makes his home in South Carolina with his wife, Jill (a publishing entrepreneur), and their second-generation golden retriever, Maggie. He's currently working on his second novel.

Check out my post of one of Mr. Cogdill’s articles called The High Calling of Hard Times: Leadership, Hope, and Radical Love -- Even on the TV News.

The Review: For Frank Locke Jr., the protagonist of She Rain: A Story of Hope, it is all of the women who come in and out of his life who shine the light of hope through their passion, nurturing and undying love.

There is a strong, protective love shared between Frank Jr.and his mother.
The story begins with the drug-induced rant of Frank Locke Jr.’s father. His violence is taken out on Frank Jr., who suffers a hurt neck and a wound from a chair. In an effort to protect her son, his mother (Dovie) attempts to step in and gets beaten right in front of Frank Jr.

Dovie’s sister Mattie has a poor family, an unfaithful husband Ulysses, and is always depending on Dovie for help. More tragedy follows Frank Jr, as he and Ulysses end up in a fight over the neglect of his family, and Dovie, trying to protect her son, kills Ulysses with a log splitter. Now in an effort to protect his mother, Frank Jr.tells his mother to say that he killed Ulysses and he flees.

Frank Jr. had these thoughts about his grandmother as he was on the run through the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.

“With it along the ridges came some of Granny’s she-rain, scattered like lace. Little scraps broken off the clouds to drift alone, wherever the day might take them. Seeing it propped me up with the thought of her. How I had never seen Granny truly afraid. Heartbroken, she had sometimes been – but always lighter than fear it seemed – never letting it gain a full grip to pull her down.”

Despite his father’s addiction, the physical and mental abuse, and the horrible crime his mother has just committed, Frankie, alone and on the run, is able to reflect on something his Granny had said to him. She had a strong faith in God and a mountain mystic view of things.

“As she saw things, no human scrap of this life is made for the trash. Even the most ragged are fit to beautify somewhere. Fit for some quilting into the finery of creation.”

It’s Granny’s faith, spiritual guidance and love that helps Frank Jr.to see beyond the sorrow and heartbreak within his life. He is able to find the hope and courage to keep going.

It was these words of his Granny’s that influenced him to defend a poor, bullied girl named Mary Lizbeth in the schoolyard. While on his journey, he recalls the time, years later, he comes to her aid again, and she confesses her undying love to Frankie.

“Frankie, ever since you thought enough to offer a piece off your mother’s bread makin’ to that little pile of filth I was in the schoolyard, I have chosen you, Frankie Locke. You had little choice in that. I chose you. Put you down into my bones. Made you every bit a part of me as the legs that grew under me.”

The love that Frank Jr.and Mary Lizbeth share seems to have a strong biblical theme. It reminds me of the story Jesus tells in one of the gospels. “Whatsoever you do for the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.” Despite the tragedies of both of their lives, they have found a love in each other that transcends their place in time.

Now that he is on the run, Frank Jr.has abandoned Mary Lizbeth to protect his mother, but with sorrow, as he is still in love with her.

It is no coincidence that Frank Jr.literally falls into the arms of Sophia Proctor. Sophia ends up rescuing Frank Jr. from drowning. As fate would have it, Frank Jr. came to the aide of Mary Lizbeth, now Sophia has come to his aide. She is nurturing and loving and believes it truly was fate that she found and rescued him.

Sophia, like Mary Lizbeth is an outcast, shunned by society for the color of her skin. She was adopted by the wealthy, mill-owning Proctor family, but lives in secrecy, secluded from society. She is alone, except for her ailing mother, until she meets Frank Jr.

Frank Jr.’s life changes forever after meeting and falling in love with Sophia. The love triangle between Frank, Sophia and Mary Lizbeth takes some amazing turns but in the end it is the love of these women that heals and prevails.

The women are intricately woven into Frank Jr.’s life. Just like a tapestry, each one, is connected somehow and part of the whole. The author not only brings the southern characters to life with his clever dialect, but the beauty of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge mountains shines through in his fine written prose. When I consider the characters, the plot and the interwoven themes, I would not be surprised if this book becomes a classic, it is that well written and highly recommended.

She-Rain a story of hope is available on Amazon.com for $16.47.



Thank you to Caitlin from FSB Associates for the reveiw copy of She-Rain: A Story of Hope.

The product(s) featured in this review were provided free of cost to me by the author, the manufacturer, or representing PR agency. Opinions expressed are my own and are NOT influenced by monetary compensation.



2 comments:

Michael Cogdill said...

Kristi, thank you for so caring and thoughtful a review of She-Rain, and for every moment you spent in its world. I'm miles beyond grateful to you!! Warmest peace, always,
Michael Cogdill

Kristi Maloney said...

Michael,

Thank you for writing such a wonderful book and taking the time to visit me here to comment!

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