Plot: This is an exquisitely-threaded, gripping, and satisfying coming-of-age novel, full of family, friendship, churches, charlatans, mentors, and mystical abilities. Readers will be engaged and enthralled from the first page until the last.
Prose/Style: The prose here is sophisticated, clear, and wholly memorable, and serves to enhance the exceptional narrative that the author has crafted.
Originality: The premise behind this wonderful novel is unique, effective, and entirely fresh.
Character/Execution: The characters are quite amazingly drawn, especially Theo and Frank. Theo, the sensitive young healer, is reminiscent of some of John Irving's young characters.
Date Submitted: July 07, 2020
Each of Harris’s characters is naturally and fully developed, making for authentic, engrossing characters that enrich the story. Young Theo is incredibly sympathetic, a sweet and innocent boy who deserves none of his trials. Equally heartrending is the powerful story that unfolds in adult Theo’s therapy sessions with a 42-year-old woman coming to terms with her own shocking childhood. Her journey seamlessly interweaves with Theo’s examination of his Southern heritage and the life-changing events of his childhood.
Harris’s descriptions, such as those of the congregations at the Calvary Baptist Church and God’s Hand Ministry, are strikingly evocative. His vivid narrative effectively captures the essence of the 1960s in a rural town, with themes of social and political prejudices and mores around race, religion, and politics that are intensely pertinent today. This heartbreaking, heartwarming story will win over any fan of the literature of the American South.
Takeaway: Poignant and devastatingly evocative, this story about faith, frauds, fear, and finding peace will especially appeal to fans of heartbreaking and heartwarming 20th-century Americana.
Great for fans of Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes, Lisa Genova’s Still Alice, Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A
5 out of 5 stars – A must read. "A fine debut novel...touching...healing...a powerful story." - Indie Reader
“Harris’ new novel tells the remarkable life story of a modern-day miracle worker. He expertly and adroitly plays each plotline against the other to create a gripping sense of narrative momentum. The slow, controlled portrayal of adult Theo’s progress toward personal redemption is commanding…and culminates in a series of chapters with hefty emotional impact. THE SUBSTANCE OF ALL THINGS is a dramatic and cumulatively powerful tale of one man’s healing.” (Kirkus)