Child of Gilead is the story of a young mother and son visited by an old family friend whose arrival brings with it the potential to uncover dark family secrets always intended to stay hidden.
Sparse and simply told, Child of Gilead, is the BookLife Prize in Fiction Grand Winner for 2020 and author Douglas S. Reed's long-awaited second novel. It is a modern-day parable that seeks to answer the seemingly unanswerable truth, "Do you know me?"
Plot: Layered, poetic, and richly nuanced, Child of Gilead is worthy of multiple readings. The novel unfolds with a parable-like precision and grace.
Prose: Reed's prose is beautifully rendered and evocative.
Originality: Highly distinctive and unique, this work of literary fiction is rich in metaphorical layers--some of which may puzzle and confound readers.
Character/Execution: Whether child and mother, Old Man, and Boy, characters in Child of Gilead occupy a world of roads and choices, faith, and lurking danger. While they resonate as archetypal within the body of the novel, they are no less vivid and complete.
Date Submitted: August 19, 2020
A modern-day parable about truth, retribution, and grace that combines gritty inner-city realism with fairy-tale symbolism.
This unusual and ambitious novel from the author of Garden’s Corner (1997) packs multiple stories, dozens of characters, and profound ideas about the meaning of life, the value of faith, and the nature of truth into just 250 pages. The Boy, a 10-year-old who narrates half the chapters, lives a quiet, ordinary life on a nice, safe block in the City (a place that natives of Brooklyn, New York, will recognize). He rides his bike to the pizzeria and playground, goes to school and church, and stays away from a nearby housing project, named Gilead, where his mother doesn’t allow him to go. One day, a new tenant, known simply as the Old Man, comes to stay in the basement apartment that the Boy’s mother, a teacher, rents out. The man was a friend of the Boy’s grandfather and has returned to settle some unfinished business with people who harmed Mama in the past. Meanwhile, one of Mama’s young pupils has vanished after being picked up from school by her stepfather. The stories of the Boy, his mom, and the Old Man intersect in unexpected ways as the narrative moves back and forth in time, place, and point of view—from the rural South to the local church to the backrooms of the City’s illegal enterprises. The novel begins at a leisurely pace and builds through increasingly dramatic scenes to a powerful conclusion. Reed connects his narrative to timeless themes with his artistic choices, such as nesting stories within stories; giving the characters’ simple, descriptive names (the Pastor, the Kid, the Candy Man, the Merchant); and beginning every seventh chapter with a biblical quote. In engaging dialogue, the characters grapple with the impossibility of protecting children, the power of secrets, the value of storytelling, and whether a person can transcend his innate nature.
An artful, thought-provoking, and memorable work of fiction.
Loved it! 😍
Star bright, star light, what a wonderful read "Child of Gilead' is with its dramatic, passionate flair of being bold!
Oh, Douglas Reed, author of ‘Child of Gilead,’ this 60,000 word song – and yes, it should be classified as a song for it played a dramatic, sensual tune – is one that any reader, no matter what they say or believe, would enjoy.
Hannah is an exceptional character, who loves her child, and wants nothing but the best in whatever pursuits her child undertakes. “Take the road less traveled, my son. Always. No exceptions.” That very piece of advice becomes a mantra of vital importance for Hannah, and her child, and well, it is essential to the story. For Hannah, the road less traveled involves an urgent method of protection and safety, while at the same time, those words unveil a method of living a purposeful life. But Hannah just wants to live life, and make sure the most precious gift, her child, has that as well.
Now, there is explicit content, and for someone who has chosen the genres of African-American fiction, Christian fiction, Southern fiction and biographies, this was a little different read for me. But I found Douglas Reed’s writing to be nothing harmfully ‘dirty,’ rather realistic and interesting. I would recommend this for those over the age of 21, and perhaps, as a rainy day, or Friday night when you are by yourself kind of read. Maybe a very adult book club would enjoy it. Who knows? Either way, I will say there are some parts that might make you blush.
Each page reveals a layer of the most beautiful gift wrap that Douglas Reed designed and created with his ink and his paper. And talk about passion, talk about mystery, talk about drama and just talk about the book all you want. Blush, fan yourself, and wonder why in the world this book scorched my creative sense.
After you take time to read it fully, you will see it is a worthy read for sure.